13 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Youths Group Wants Age Caps On Public Office Removed, Plan Con-Court Challenge

Photo: Plaxedes Ncube/The Source
Zimbabwe parliament (file photo).

A youth group plans a Constitutional Court challenge against age caps on public office, arguing the injunctions are discriminatory and therefore potentially unconstitutional.

The National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) said it wants the age cap on running for president, among other restrictions, removed.

NAYO is a grouping of youth organisations from different political parties, civil society organisations, labour and the church.

The group's national coordinator Macdonald Munyoro said they will soon be approaching the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of some sections of the Constitution which they claim are discriminatory.

"It is imperative to note that section 91 (1)b of the Constitution limits presidential candidates to at least 40 years of age; section 121 (1)b limits Senate candidates to at least 40 years and parliamentary candidates are limited to 21 years of age as enshrined in section 125 (1)b of the Constitution, which we categorically intend to challenge as it is discriminatory and inconsistent with Section 56 of the Constitution which is clear on equality and non-discrimination of persons," said Munyoro.

He added that sections 67(3) and 67(3) b gave every Zimbabwean over the age of 18 the right to vote and to stand for public office respectively while section 56 (2) gives both women and men the right to equal treatment, which they felt were being infringed upon by the age caps.

NAYO, Munyoro said, would also petition parliament, adding they were mobilizing 50,000 signatures from youths across the country.

"As young people, we must not be curtailed in terms of our potential and what we aspire to be, and we believe that at the age of 18, was is able to make conscious decisions and strongly feel that if I can vote at 18 then I should also be able to run for public office," he said.

NAYO is currently working with youthful aspiring candidates for this year's elections, mostly those standing as independent candidates and mobilizing resources to support them.

The youths, Munyoro said, were also moving around the country to promote and commit to uphold peace as the country approached the elections, which have in the past been synonymous with violence.

African Union and European Union summit consultations undertaken by NAYO in 2017 revealed that youths constitute almost 68 percent of the country's population but remained marginalised in and from governance processes.

The consultations were held under the theme "Investing in Youth and had a pillar focusing on Governance, Political inclusion and Activism".


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