|Youths have been identified as a pivotal constituency in the 2018 harmonised elections, with figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showing that a significant number of registered voters are aged between 18 and 40. Last week, The Sunday Mail’s Chief Reporter, Kuda Bwititi, interviewed Zanu-PF National Secretary for Youth Affairs, Cde Pupurayi Togarepi, to get his views on how the revolutionary party’s wing is mobilising voters ahead of the forthcoming polls.|
Q: Recently, Zanu-PF’s Youth League launched the #EDhasMyVote campaign which is the organ’s flagship theme ahead of the elections. How successful has been the #EDhasMyVote campaign to date?
A: It has been a huge success so far. We have successfully reached out to youth, and even the adult population now associates with the #EDhasMyVote buzz. What is also important is that after launching the theme at national level, we have taken it to the villages, right to where the people are and they are catching on the vibe.
Q: Statistics from ZEC show that the majority of the electorate is in the rural areas. What strategies are you implementing to target the youth vote in these areas?
A: This has always been the trend, obviously speaking to our population distribution. More of our people including the youth live or stay in the rural areas. As I said earlier, the Youth League is everywhere activating its structures and mobilising new voters. We are pushing our President’s message of peace, unity and development.
Strategies cannot be shared before the battle. But what I can tell you is we are alive to those demographics, and come elections, Zanu-PF will get more of the youth vote.
The national executive and provincial structures of the Youth League are implementing the strategies in rural areas as I speak to you. We are going to the villages and we are present in every ward to spread this campaign. We are in the wards interfacing with the youth.
We are focusing on getting input from the youth on economic development. We are getting interesting feedback and we will push implementation by relevant Government departments.
Wherever we go, we carry with us the message from our President, the message of unity, love, economic prosperity and none violence in the coming election.
Our President has a special focus on job creation and empowerment of the Youth
Q: How many youths are you targeting to vote for Zanu-PF in this year’s election and how do you hope to woo these numbers?
A: We are targeting at least 70 percent of the youth vote. Our successes will be based on three main factors in this election.
We have a cut-above-the-rest Presidential candidate in Cde ED Mnangagwa. His appeal to Zimbabweans is unmatched.
Our party manifesto is people-based and it speaks to the wishes and aspirations our people.
The unity prevailing in our party and Government gives every Zimbabwean hope for prosperous future. The new paradigm being spearheaded by our President of focusing on economic development both at household and national level resonates with our youth and the general populace. The youth will, therefore, vote Zanu-PF in the coming election because we offer a stable and predictable future for them.
Q: Some critics are of the view that more still needs to be done. Do you believe that you are doing enough and is the Zanu-PF Youth League visible?
A: We are very visible. It’s a matter of strategies and how they are executed. Those who know where the political game is being played will agree with me.
We stay with the people not in the media. If you come where people are you will find us. We are present on various social media platforms and engage the media, but whatever we do is informed by our strategic objectives and the outcomes that we seek to achieve.
Q: Social media have become an important platform for campaigning. What is your strategy for alternative media and how is the Zanu-PF Youth League making use of this platform to reach out to voters in line with the recent call by President Mnangagwa for the party to effectively use the social media space?
A: We do not want to expose our strategies to competitors. What I can say is that members of the Youth League are on social media as individuals and we also have official presence as the Youth League.
We have employed various strategies that are very effective. We have a department of experts dedicated to drive those strategies and so far we are impressed.
More strategies will be employed at the right time.
We are up to the task and those following major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram will agree that we have strong cadres.
The President advised us also to use social media competitively and responsibly. We are satisfied that the #EDhasMyVote campaign is trending and we have thousands of followers on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
We are targeting to get more and more followers with time.
Q: There have been media reports indicating that the Youth League has demanded a 30 percent quota of candidates in this year’s election. What has motivated this and has this been agreed on by the Politburo?
A: I am not sure about the 30 percent but youths are requesting access to competing of parliamentary slots, with the quota system being one such approach.
The party is supportive of the youths’ request and you may find more than 30 person of our candidates being Youth League members in the coming elections.
Q: How different is your Youth League from your predecessor Kudzanai Chipanga’s era?
A: We are conscious of our role as the vanguard of the revolutionary party. The executive I am leading is very organised and initiative-based.
We are firm on youth interests, guided by the constitution of the party. We will always consult our party leadership for guidance all the way. Going forward, we will build a Youth League with competencies in business, politics and social responsibility.
The past executive should be forgiven for being imposed by a power hungry lot who had captured the party and the former President.
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