Diakonia - People change the world
Luwiza Makosa refuses to be silent when it comes to democracy, human rights and gender equality. "Young people must become leaders and create their own initiatives, she says. Photo: Per-Ulf Nilsson

Zimbabwe: Students creating dialogue about democracy

Luwiza is a leader at Diakonia's Zimbabwean partner organization SCMZ. She is convinced that in order to change the political climate in the country, it is not enough to just vote.

8/4/2013 Publisher: Julle Bergenholtz

SCMZ introduced Luwiza to politics

Luwiza Makosa is 23 years old and active in Diakonia’s partner organization Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ). As a young teenager, Luwiza engaged herself in the rights of women and girls, and today, she studies political science at the university of Bindura just outside Harare. Luwiza joined SCMZ when she discovered that the organization worked for human rights, gender equality and political participation through Christian values.

"SCMZ has introduced me to the political arena. Before, I did not think that politics were something for me, I wouldn’t even vote in elections. But now I realize the importance of active participation, both on a local and national level."

Facts about SCMZ: The SCMZ was initially started in the 1960’s to provide African young people with the opportunity to study in a country run by Europeans. Today, the SCMZ works for the active participation of young people in society through non-violence, justice and gender equality.

Refuses to be silent

Luwiza is one of the few women that are involved in SCMZ. The lack of women is much due to risk for violence and rape that outspoken women promoting human rights face in Zimbabwe. But that does not stop Luwiza. Recently, she represented young Zimbabwean women at the 57th session on the Commission on the Status of Women where she argued loudly and bravely for the cause of gender equality.

"Young women today are afraid of letting their voices be heard. They can be raped by other students or by the police if they speak up. That’s why many back down and just focus on their studies. I was one of the few women that dared to work with democracy and human rights issues. But through our work, we see that more women dare to be active and that they are not silent anymore," says Luwiza.

Working politically in Zimbabwe: The political climate in Zimbabwe has been difficult for many years. Working for human rights and democracy in the country means risking one's own life. The democracy is weak, and even if the country has had a government since 2009, the electoral process is often plagued with allegations of fraud, including the election in 2013.

Young people must become leaders

Right now, the political situation in Zimbabwe is at a crucial stage, where the insecurities regarding the elections are great. Luwiza and SCMZ are therefore going to intensify their work for a peaceful political process through reconciliation between political enemies and increased demand for democracy. They specifically focus on the participation of young people, which Luwiza sees as a group which must not be used for political purposes anymore, but instead be an active force in the peaceful democratic process.

"I want young people to participate in the national processes, and not just by voting. They must become leaders and create their own initiatives, and not become puppets of the political parties."