By Paul Ndiho
AS the battle for the 2018 presidential election narrows down to two front-runners, President Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zanu PF), and the main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, MDC Alliance. Young people say their vote could bring about the desired change that the country needs.
A drive through downtown Harare ahead of Monday’s poll gives you just a glimpse what the future holds for Zimbabwe. Long lines of people waiting to withdraw money from their banks, a dire financial situation has arguably worsened under Mnangagwa, who has been in power less than a year and has not been able to address the chronic cash shortages that are choking businesses and the poor. The president’s supporters disagree and say he is the man for the job.
“President Mnangagwa has articulated his vision for this country. He has articulated since he took over the office after the new dispensation. And we already
see the implementations of some of the promises that he’s made to the people, and we want to keep, and stay on that track.”
The youth vote could be crucial. Perhaps, it could shape the future of Zimbabwe as this election is being cast as a fight between the old guard of independence war hero’s vis-à-vis the changing demographics.
“I’ll vote for the President H.E comrade ED Munangagwa because, after the new dispensation, he has managed to open up the country. Jump started the economy, industries like farming, mining, and agriculture as well.”
Critics say this General election is like no other, Opposition Leader; Nelson Chamisa has galvanized his opposition party with simple speeches and promises of economic revival. The 40 year old Chamisa is Zimbabwe’s youngest ever-presidential candidate. Earlier this week at his party headquarters, he urged the youth and party members to come out in their numbers for Monday’s election.
Young voters say voters are fed up with the ruling party – which they say behaves with a sense of entitlement which has run down Zimbabwe and should make way for the young generation.
“We’re born in a tough economy and our hope is that on the 30th after we Vote things can change for the better for Zimbabwe because we are hoping for a better future for ourselves.”
Thousands of youths graduate from universities every year to join the ranks of unemployed. Many eke out a living hawking wares and airtime on the streets.
What kind of change would you and your colleagues like to see here in your country?
“We need to have leaders are accountable, need to have leaders who are Transparent. We need to have leaders who are focused and committed to social economic justice for all of us.”
While young voters in the past have been politically apathetic and not engaged in the voting process, they now realize that their voice matters and hence, their vote could bring about a trajectory change in Zimbabwe.
“He has been corrupt. I mean he has been in government for the Past thirty-eight years. So what new change does he want to bring when he has failed to bring change in the thirty-eight years.”
Analysts predict an election that is too close to call. And that if it’s judged free and fair, and credible by both the Zimbabwean people and the international community it could unlock massive foreign investment and restore the badly needed confidence in Zimbabwe.