Monday, 07 May 2018 09:20

Student Exclusion from Primary Elections, Cause for Concern in Zimbabwe Featured

Section 67 of the constitution which speaks upon political rights clearly stipulates that citizens have a right to participate in all elections. Initiatives to hold primary elections in various constituencies during a time when university students are at their various tertiary institutions becomes a crystal clear move to exclude them and in the process ultimately infringing their constitutional right.

Interesting to note is that a primary election is an election which nominates candidates for the general election. In essence it may be referred to as a pruning and weeding process in which a political party cuts down the number of candidates to run in an upcoming election with the motive of selecting only the best candidates to represent them. The most fundamental question becomes, “Should students be excluded from such an important democratic exercise”.

ZANU PF primary elections were held on the 29th of April 2018 and at that time tertiary institutions were open. This spoke to the heart-breaking truth that over a million students at tertiary institutions were sadly excluded from the primary elections.

Primary elections are the bed-rock of the general elections. On that note is the government conveying a message that says, “Students should vote at the general election; voting for candidates they were not granted an opportunity to decide whether or not they should represent them at the general election. Does democracy become democracy when political participation is restricted for some elections and provided for some?

Students’ political will is a force to reckon with and should be treated as such. It has been well documented and observed that majority of effective politicians built their political careers at their different tertiary institutions and these include MDC-T President Nelson Chamisa, as such the grooming of future politicians through their involvement in various national political activities is necessary.

On that note, the government needs to implement initiatives that ensure the students at tertiary institutions also participate. These may include a break from their studies for the duration of the primary elections so as to ensure that they get an opportunity to also participate in primary elections from their various constituencies.

Elections as a tenant of democracy, carry the ideology that a State should not only carry out elections but these elections should also be free, fair and credible. Free, fair and credible elections possess participation as one of its many characteristics as such, for as long as students are excluded from the primary elections, the elections cannot be credited as being free, fair and credible. Therefore the exclusion of students from primary elections is but a cause for concern.

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