Middle Class Men and Zimbabwe Politics: A case of Social Cost Benefit Analysis*.
Since the middle class is conventionally seen as the major defenders of liberal democracy, their role in Zimbabwe is worth understanding, but a recent study suggested that this might not be the case (RAU. 2015). In a highly patriarchal society such as Zimbabwe, the role of middle class women may take on an additionally important role, but a more recent study suggested that neither social class nor residence – rural or urban – were indicative of women’s participation in the political life of the country (RAU.2016). The defining criterion for women’s voice and participation was the strength of their belief in democracy. However, with nearly 70% of Zimbabwe’s population under the age of 35 years, the role of the young may become very important in determining the direction of the country’s politics, and hence the role of young women needs to be understood.
The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) conducted a study on middle class women under the age of 35, (defined as university educated, employed and earning above $600 per month as per the World Bank definition) that aimed at investigating what the views of this forgotten class has regarding politics in Zimbabwe and most importantly their participation. Focus group discussions and individual interviews were held with middle class women and one was held with middle class men. The focus group with the men was for comparative purposes to ascertain if their views were different. Both sexes had similar views and opinions on some issues but differed on others based on gender and societal norms.