Zanu PF, MDC open up for youths in coming elections

HARARE - As talk of elections hots up, there is fierce jostling by party members from both MDC and Zanu PF that want to contest in primary elections for their respective parties.

Two special groups — the youths and women — have been making the most noise as they seek more representation.

An intriguing development in which the youths are set to challenge the old guard will even create a platform for internal political violence.

The Daily News caught up with officials from Zanu PF and MDC who said they were opening up to youths and women participation in the primaries.

MDC has confirmed they are already preparing to hold their primary elections in which “new blood” is expected to claim a stake.

Douglas Mwonzora, the mainstream MDC spokesperson told the Daily News that preparations for primary elections were at an advanced stage, since the party had already drafted a document detailing how the selection of the candidates would be conducted.

“We have not set the date yet but we have completed a document titled A guide to candidate selection,” said Mwonzora.

Mwonzora said it was “natural” that new people would be coming on board since the MDC had amassed support from grassroots youths and women.

He said all party members who will be involved in violent activities during the primary elections would face disciplinary action.

“People who are involved in violence risk expulsion,” said Mwonzora.

He said his party had already started campaigning in preparation of the forthcoming elections.

“These are elections we are going to win. Structurally MDC is superior,” he said.

Zanu PF’s Saviour Kasukuwere said his party was no exception to the involvement of the youth in the political field.

“Yes, we have empowered the youths not only economically but politically and socially,” he said.

Asked whether some Zanu PF senior officials would allow “new blood” to contest for posts, Kasukuwere said his party was a “democratic party” where they did not impose candidates.

The youths, he said, were capable of contesting for posts in the forthcoming elections, provided they followed due process.

MDC national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said the forthcoming elections were going to see youths and women standing as candidates.

“We have an upliftment programme that gives the youth access to housing, jobs, entrepreneurship, education and scholarships. We go beyond the slogan, or jingle,” said Chamisa.

“Youth is not defined by a claim and MDC places the young at the centre. Creating Chipangano is not empowerment,” said Chamisa.

He said his party was serious with youth empowerment.  

“Where would you have a person like me as a minister?” queried Chamisa.

Political parties have realised the youth vote is essential to success in next year’s elections. Zimbabwean youths make up 60 percent of the country’s population.

Zanu PF, through the Empowerment minister, Kasukuwere has embarked on the indigenisation programme, a plan that is aimed at empowering the youths.

President Robert Mugabe has also roped in the youths and women in his political campaigns. Several youths and women have featured in jingles propping up the 88-year-old Zanu PF leader.

Analysts say MDC and Zanu PF have both realised that securing the youth support on the coming campaign trail could be what is needed to tip the balance in their favour.

Zanu PF has been accused of using youth militias to intimidate and harass its political opponents during election time. - Tendai Kamhungira

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