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Perceptions from a Youth, Media and Governance survey as Zimbabwe prepare for elections

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The us of cell phone technology is increasing in Zimbabwe with nine in every ten people having access to a mobile phone. Making calls, receiving and sending text messages are some of the major uses of mobile phones. In a sample size of 1200 adults who took part in a survey conducted by Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) in October 2012, nearly 24% of people have access to the Internet and they access the Internet using mobile phones. Of those interviewed 21% use the Internet for social media and 16% use it to get news.

Radio is still the leading source of information, and among the radio stations in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s radio stations ranked as the most common source of information for public, political and current affairs in the country.

People in Zimbabwe place a lot of trust in information coming from schools and religious leaders both in urban and rural areas. But very few have trust in councils and government representatives as sources of information. Since its inception in 2009, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee remains unknown to about 62% of the people who took part in the survey, and in areas like Matebeleland North and South people had problems accessing JOMIC.

An overwhelming response from people who took part in the National Census show that almost every household was covered in the census as the country’s ten provinces scored above 90% in visits to households during the census.

As the nation prepares for elections 59% of young people interviewed are affiliated to a certain political party and Mashonaland Central recorded the highest number of youths who are active in party politics whilst Bulawayo youth have less interest as shown by a low figure of 36%.

However fear of political intimidation during election campaigns is still high and many young people are uncomfortable talking about politics. 71% think that in the event of political violence being perpetrated by any political party, reporting it to the police is the most effective way of dealing with the situation. 56% believe the police have the influence to stop violence.

A high percentage of young people interviewed strongly agree that women should have the same opportunities as men in getting elected to political office and of those who agree, 71 % also believe that women should have equal rights and should be treated the same as men.

On democracy and one party rule many youths denounce autocracy, 75 % disapprove of military rule and a majority believe open and regular elections should be used to choose leaders. A democracy with problems is how young people view Zimbabwe but youths are optimistic that five years from now the economy will be better with improved living conditions.

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