By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
AS we slowly draw closer to 2018, many youths are beginning to come out of closets and declaring their interest to contest for political leadership, but will next year’s elections usher in a reign of young leaders?
The issue of political positions, especially with regards to contesting in elections by young people is generally regarded as a political landmine in both Zanu PF and MDC-T, the country’s main political parties.
Although youths play a significant role in the campaign and mobilisation process, more often when we draw towards elections doors are usually shutout on them or they are muscled out by unfair clauses and requirements.
Prior to the 2013 elections, MDC-T Youth Assembly demanded a quota of the Parliamentary seats while in Zanu PF there was also a spike of interest from members of the Youth League.
The likes of Kudzai Chipanga, Acie Lumumba, Shadreck Mashayamombe and Abisha Ushewokunze among many others got the nod to contest and albeit producing varying results.
Now with the realisation that youth make up the majority in the country and that they have the power to elect a winner on their own in 2018 elections, many youths are beginning to develop an interest in the election process.
Some of the youths who have taken it upon themselves to taste the country’s political acceptance include lawyer-cum activist Fadzayi Mahere and UK trained Nurse Vimbainashe Musvaburi.
Mahere is eyeing the Mount Pleasant National Assembly seat, while Musvaburi has set her target on Bulawayo South Constituency.
The energy being exuded by most of these aspiring candidates is so inspiring to the extent that they have taken social media by storm, their campaign pages on both Twitter and Facebook are also trending, but will this be enough to inspire much more to follow suit.
While some prominent opinion leaders such as Vince Musewe have welcomed these youths, some believe there is still more that needs to be done if these aspiring candidates are going to have it their way in 2018.
Others have warned that these aspiring candidates should not be mistaken to count Facebook and Twitter likes as automatic votes, but should instead go on the ground and work to get votes in their various constituencies.
According to an analysis by Kudzai Goremusandu, patronage is one of the factors inhibiting young people to take up leadership positions. He says youths feel they need to be affiliated to a political party for them to take up leadership positions and this has also cascaded to the electorate which has on numerous occasions voted candidates based on party lines without looking at what the candidate is offering.
Goremusandu’s views are further buttressed by the barrage of criticism Mahere has met when she announced her independent candidature.
National Democratic Party youth member Edward Tongani is of the view that time has come for youths to take up leadership positions but was quick to point out that it’s not going to be as easy as a walk in the park, especially in terms of resource availability.
“I decided to enter politics because I believe the time is now for our folk to effect the changes that we want, but there are a lot of challenges that will come our way and the critical one is resources.
“As prospective candidates, we need to outsource our rival candidates for us to stand a chance,” he said.
Farai Mteliso, who is eyeing Shurugwi North, said youths are entering politics because they have failed to find employment elsewhere.
While independent youth candidates have stood up to take their space, it, however, remains to be seen if those in political parties will also come to the party when primary elections are done.