“We are trying to move away from just participating in these processes, (and) towards taking charge of the processes,” said Michael Mabwe, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, during a Food for Thought session held at the U.S. Embassy’s Eastgate offices. “We must design and implement, not just wait to be called to participate on things that have been designed by someone else,” he said.
Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights (ZPHR) have released an eight track album that they hope will encourage active youth participation in the coming elections, proposed in March next year. The album, dubbed “All Protocols Observed,” is a collaboration by different artists and touches on issues such as Press Freedom, Operation Murambatsvina, and the Zimbabwean debt crisis with the World Bank and IMF.
“We are trying to make sure that as many young people as possible register to vote. We are not concerned about whoever they vote for, as long as we can say that we have increased our 18% participation to 50%,” said Shoes Lambada, co-founder of ZPHR. He referred to the September 2011 elections in Zambia, which he said was revolutionised by the youth vote, and encouraged youths to use social media to actively participate in the coming elections.
In the last elections held in Zimbabwe, 18% of the youth population participated in the elections despite youth constituting 62% of the population. The young poets described this figure as “unacceptable,” calling for many more youth to get involved.
The discussion facilitated by the poets came two days before the October 18 World Youth Day for Democracy, which is marked to commemorate and to celebrate the role of youth in strengthening democracy.
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