From Apathy to Action
Luwiza Makosa and Emilie Larsen Ørneseidet with fellow Ballot Buddies at University of Zimbabwe.
In late 2016 then FK participants Emilie Larsen Ørneseidet, Jarand Hanto and 2017 FK participant Luwiza Makosa together with the Student Christian Movement team initiated the Ballot Buddies Network Campaign in Zimbabwe. The project came about as a way to address voter apathy amongst Zimbabwean youths for the upcoming 2018 general elections
It is with pleasure that we write to you, sharing our experiences working on the Ballot Buddies Network in Zimbabwe. Firstly let us introduce you to the Ballot Buddies Network. The Ballot Buddies was a strategic campaign aimed at mobilizing students and youths to register to vote in the Zimbabwe 2018 elections.
Initially limited to selected tertiary institutions, the Ballot Buddies Network , under the guidance of Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust (YETT), Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), grew into a national network targeting 2 million Zimbabweans between the age of 18 to 35 years to register to vote.The project came as a response to address the voter apathy existing among Zimbabwean youths.
- “It gives me great pleasure to see what this project has snowballed into and that so many organisations and youths have taken an interest in such an important cause”says Jarand Hanto.
The aim of the Ballot Buddies Network was to promote youth participation the electoral processes in Zimbabwe. More specifically to mobilize youths to register to vote for the 2018 general elections under the slogan “From Apathy to Action”. On a long-term basis, the project aimed to change attitudes and behaviours of the youth and encourage active youth participation in the national political discourse regardless of political affiliation. However the broader aim of the campaign was to promote the active participation of students and youths in electoral processes in Zimbabwe, building a critical mass of youths who are willing to peacefully participate in National processes.
The campaign message was discussed upon by stakeholders involved in the campaign that was the students, the campaign group leaders. It was interesting to note that various themes were suggested and some interesting ones were as follows (virgin finger- meaning first time voter), slay that thumb, X1G Reloaded, ballot buddy amongst other innovative campaign themes. Finally the group then decided to go with “APATHY TO ACTION”as the theme for the Ballot buddies network. Upto date the campaign still encourages young people to move from apathy to action.
In April 2017 a Ballot Buddies Boot Camp was held to educate Ballot “Buddies” on the campaign and electoral processes in general. The idea being for the attendees to establish provincial Ballot Buddies networks and coordinate voter registration locally. Emilie Ørneseidet explains:
-As exchange participants we were involved in the work with what was to become the Ballot Buddies network. Some of the work included contributing to development of the campaign material and campaign strategy. Here we worked in close cooperation with YETT and SCMZ,During the Boot Camp40 students coming from 5 different tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe gathered for a workshop to learn more about the Ballot Buddies and electoral processes in general. A crucial part of the Boot Camp was to capacitate the students in such a way so that they were prepared to educate and capacitate fellow students at their own institutions in the months that followed. At the Boot Camp the students were encouraged to further mobilize friends, colleagues, communities, churches and other off-campus connections to register to vote so that they too could access exclusive spaces and entertain, l was privileged to facilitate one of the sessions during the boot camp”
Apart from the Boot camps a number of activities were carried out and these included radio talk shows, Open day voter education serminas, students speak newsletters have were published sharing student experiences on voter registration in various districts among other activities.
Jean Betrand-Mhandu-2017-18 SCMZ Ballot Buddies Team Leader: “I was impressed by the exceptional participation of young people that we reached out to. Young people showed zeal to take up the campaign theme of moving from apathy to action. However, my worry is on the level of effort being put by CSOs and government to keep up the momentum to capacitate young people to their fullest potential to be the next leaders of our generation. I wish to see the efforts made by the Ballot Buddies to continue bearing fruits to the young people of Zimbabwe.
Our hope never dies...
Luwiza Makosaexpresses that, “We continue to CELEBRATE the exceptional youth participation in the Ballot Buddies, we also remain hopeful that the Zimbabwean situation will one day change and that we will see young people happy and being responsible for their communities.Until then the Ballot Buddies Network remain vigilant.
Ballot buddies leading team in Mashonaland Central Province,Bindura University