SW Radio Africa (London)

12 November 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Senator Uses Social Media to Lure Younger Voters

The MDC-T in Harare has launched a new social media campaign that not only urges the youths to register, but solicits their votes in next year's crucial elections.

The campaign, the brainchild of the deputy Minister of Justice Senator Obert Gutu, has taken social media to a new level, expanding beyond Facebook and Twitter and into the world of Whatsapp.

Gutu told SW Radio Africa on Monday they have a plan to reach out to 3.5 million Harare residents by employing online tactics. He said at stake are votes from citizens, particularly younger ones, who may not watch television or read the paper but spend plenty of time on the social web.

A political analyst said the MDC-T strategy to use online tactics is an attempt to stay young and relevant by embracing social media and incorporating cutting-edge technology into its campaign.

The same technology was used by US President Barack Obama four years ago when he captured the youth vote that propelled him into the White House.

'My main thrust now is micro-politicking; to reach out to the youths through facebook, twitter and whatsaap. We have to deliberately target these youths because they are technology savvy.

'In my capacity as MDC Harare provincial spokesperson, this is my special appeal to all the youths in the 24 constituencies in Harare. Please ensure that you are registered to vote and also that on the voting day, you are in the queue first thing in the morning and that you vote for Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC Real Change team,' Gutu said.

The deputy minister said preliminary results from the latest ZimStat population census show that metropolitan Harare, (Harare, Ruwa, Norton and Chitungwiza) has a population of about 3.5 million. Out of this number Gutu said 65 percent of them are below the age of 40 and can be categorised as youths.

'There are two million people from 18 years of age to 40 who are eligible to vote in Harare metropolitan. Already I've started mobilising these numbers to register and the response on my facebook page has been phenomenal,' according to Gutu.

'We want to make sure that we get the word out in a way that young people are connecting. And a lot of the younger generation is not sitting behind their computer nowadays; a lot of our young people are not sitting in front of a TV.

'But they may be holding on that iPhone or that Blackberry or that Android and so let's put it out in a way that they will connect to us especially our pleas for them to register and vote,' the deputy minister added.

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