Democracy, Habermasian Sphere, Social Media, and Youth Participation in Governance in Zimbabwe: Youth in Governance Processes in Africa

Democracy, Habermasian Sphere, Social Media, and Youth Participation in Governance in Zimbabwe: Youth in Governance Processes in Africa

David Makwerere (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9388-1.ch007
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This chapter focused on the opportunities and challenges presented by social media in the democratization process in Zimbabwe. The chapter contends that youth participation on various social media podiums is very vibrant. The youth use social media to communicate issues affecting them and in most cases to express their displeasure with governing authorities. The types of the youth on social media can be categorized into three; the protestors, the defensive and the moderates. The protestors are those who simply use the platforms created by social media to vent their frustrations in a less constructive way. The defensive are those youths who believe in the status quo and are willing to defend the ruling elites at all costs. The moderates are those who believe that social media can be a platform for dialogue and constructive engagement.
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The advent of social media has presented ordinary citizens with an opportunity to effectively participate in governance processes. The youth have emerged as the greatest consumers of the many social media products that are on the market (Valenzuela 2013). There has always been a concern in many developing countries about the lack of youth participation (Baumgartner & Morris, 2010; David, 2013; Yamamoto & Kushin, 2013) and social media has been viewed as a potential game changer. The 21st century has presented the world with many dynamic developments. The social media has arguably emerged as the most powerful social and technological force of the millennium. The social media presents the world with a vast array of cultural, social, technological and economic resources that are useful for the sustainable development of the global community. The internet is a powerful empowerment tool. However, social media also possess potential pitfalls that include the exclusion of minorities, cyberbullying, defamation of character and many other undesirable elements which affect the potential positive influences of the internet (van der Bank 2014). Social media and the internet, in general, are important in providing a platform for interaction, the sharing of ideas and the development of discourses that shape the developmental agendas in different contexts.

The youth in Africa often termed the ‘demographic dividend’ in African Union corridors, have always been crucial change agents throughout different historical contexts across the world. The youth were influential during the decolonization agenda in Africa. Whether one is looking at the African Union in South Africa, the South West Africa People’s Organisation in Namibia, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique in Mozambique or the Zimbabwe African National Union and Zimbabwe African People’s Union nationalist movements in Zimbabwe, the youth have always been at the forefront of agitating for change. The struggles for individual and collective freedoms took a different formation at the turn of the century when the youth in the Arab-Maghreb region utilized the power of the internet to engineer political transitions in Tunisia and Egypt. The internet and the various social media platforms provide a platform where the youth discusses issues of common concern as well as deliberate on mobilization strategies. Social media is a major rallying point as the youth delivers the much-needed change in the two Arab countries.

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