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Under-representation of youths in key sectors cause for concern – ZESN

Story by ZBC Reporter

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has underscored the crucial importance of youth participation in electoral processes as enshrined in Section 67 of the Zimbabwean Constitution.

In a statement to mark the National Youth Day celebrations, ZESN noted the underrepresentation of youths in key sectors of the economy.

“Despite constitutional provisions and global mandates advocating for youth involvement, youth are still underrepresented in key electoral, governance, policy and legislative affairs,” it said.

ZESN further noted the indispensable role of young people in global development.

“The global community, including the United Nations role of and the African Union, has repeatedly emphasised the indispensable role of young young people in driving sustainable development and fostering inclusive governance. Zimbabwe, as a signatory to various international agreements, is duty-bound to uphold these principles. The Constitution of Zimbabwe, in Section 20 (1), explicitly mandates the State and all its institutions to implement affirmative action programmes ensuring youth access to education, training, and meaningful participation across all spheres of life.”

Concerning the recently held 2023 harmonised elections, ZESN lamented the low number of youths elected into the National Assembly.

“In the aftermath of the 2023 Harmonised Elections, ZESN observed with concern that only 35 young individuals secured seats in the National Assembly. Among these, 17 were directly elected, ten (10) went through the Youth Quota allocation and a further eight (8) through the Women’s Quota. This representation, constituting 12.5% of the 280-Member National Assembly, contrasts with the demographic reality where the youth comprise over 60% of Zimbabwe’s population.”

Whilst ZESN welcomed the institutionalisation of the Youth Quota in the National Assembly to enhance their participation in democratic governance processes, gender disparity remains a topic of concern.

“It is of concern that out of the ten (10) youth MPs elected under the Youth Quota, only three (3) are female. This gender disparity not only undermines the principle of gender equality but also hampers the holistic representation of youth voices in the legislative chambers. Special attention must be given to addressing gender disparities within youth representation.”

This year’s National Youth Day celebrations at Mushagashe Vocational Training Centre are being held under the theme: Positioning Youth Empowerment and Development Towards Vision 2030.

The National Youth Day was proclaimed and introduced by the Zimbabwean Government in 2017 to recognise youth and revel their contributions in the development of Zimbabwe as well as for the young people to recognise and emulate the leadership values.

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