n Journal of African Elections - The youth factor in Zimbabwe's 2013 harmonised elections

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The youth in Zimbabwe have often been described as disenfranchised, corruptible and susceptible to manipulation by politicians. This narrative assumes that the youth are a homogenous group, uniform in their grievances and consensual about strategies to resolve them. Analysing the case of youth participation in the 2013 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe, this article challenges that assumption by arguing that the youth are polarised and struggling to articulate a national objective that might be able to shift the country's political discourse. It contends that the majority of Zimbabwean youth act as loosely affiliated individuals seeking personal rather than group benefits. At the same time, by assessing the engagement of youth within political parties either as supporters or officials, the article further argues that the structural dynamics of these political parties deny the youth agency and make them conform. It therefore concludes that participation by the youth in the 2013 elections was mainly driven by individual interests rather than collective grievances or political identity.

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