Enhancing Youth Political Participation For Africa’s Development.

By Anticorruptionintl.org (kgoremu sandu)

Africa is a continent of the young. In 2015, of a total population of close to 1.2 billion people, an estimated 541 million (45.1%) were under the age of 18. A further 458 million (38.2%) were between the ages of 18 and 45. Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 constitute one-third of Africa’s population. However, youth’s influence on national politics remains limited. Young people need leadership opportunities to be able to gain experience and fulfill their potential. It is important, therefore, to integrate young people at the helm of both the political and non-profit sectors. Recognizing that young people, like all people, want to be appreciated for the role that they play in society, they need viable avenues through which they can use their abilities and talents to make positive contributions.

Many young people in Africa look for political opportunities or try to create opportunities for participation, only to find their ideas resisted or rejected. In the absence of such opportunities, they are more likely to find other avenues of expressing frustration and form alternative groups in order to feel a sense of belonging for example #This Flag, a social group in Zimbabwe which caused social unrest in Harare (the capital city). If young people are not given viable means of political participation, they can pose a threat of up rise in societies. The result of some governments in Africa of failing to constructively engage youths is that their potential is often lost or diverted.

Factors specifically influencing youth political participation included the following:

Distrust of politics and political parties: In many African countries for example Zimbabwe youth associate African politics with politicians who are corrupt, dishonesty and they do not fulfill their promises. Many youths avoid politics, and preferably become active within civil society.

Distrust of electoral processes and institutions: Countries such as Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Gambia, Zimbabwe and Zambia have experienced disputed election results and in some cases, discrepant vote-tallying systems used by candidates and by electoral institutions. Perceptions of problems with the reporting of results in Africa has led to skepticism about electoral processes, and raised questions of transparency and the independence of institutions. Hence many youths hesitate to vote due to the electoral system error.

Under-representation within government and political parties: In many countries for example Zambia and Kenya, youths feel that they are targeted by politicians seeking votes during election campaigns. However, once elections are over, they are not adequately represented in political parties or in government. Even when young candidates are elected, they often feel they have no political power, and are excluded from the decision-making processes. Many Africans feel their peers would not be more likely to turn out at the polls if more young candidates are appointed to meaningful, influential and prominent positions.

Factors hindering young candidates running for elected office included:

Patronage and resources: Young candidates are affected by political patronage networks and a lack of financial resources as obstacles if they are interested in running for elected office. Well-resourced candidates and political parties in a number of African countries for example Zambia they buying support through giving away cash and gifts, such as maize.

Age limits in electoral law: A number of African countries for example Zimbabwe has age limits in their electoral laws, which prevented candidates under the age of 35 or 40 from contesting national elections.

Inter-generational differences: In some African countries for example Gambia, youths are discouraged from running for elected office because of perceptions that leadership should be reserved for older people.

Recommendations

Youth Empowerment through Civic Education

Education activities aimed at improving the participation of youths in political leadership should prioritize leadership training with an emphasis on management skills and accountability so that when elected, young politicians can continue to play an important role in inspiring others to participate in politics. Second, “youth for youth” role models should be encouraged. As more youth gain leadership positions in political parties, it is important that they help to educate other young people. Finally, political party procedures should be standardized and institutionalized in order to create predictable legal and constitutional frameworks that would enable hardworking, determined, and committed youth to navigate the political system.

Strengthening public policy making skills

The youth constituency in Africa is too large to remain on the margins of the democratic process. African political parties must engage in multifaceted programmes and start thinking more creatively about how to bring youth on board. Specifically, political parties need to start taking a more proactive approach to engaging with youth as voters, electoral candidates and electoral managers. This, in turn, requires political parties to engage more effectively with key partners on youth-related issues. Two actors of particular importance are political parties and civil society organizations.

Political parties remain a significant barrier to youth participation in decision-making structures through their control over the submission of the lists of electoral candidates. Political parties should therefore consider facilitating interparty dialogue to foster broader agreements on the need for the advancement of youth as electoral contestants. Furthermore, by working with youth-led or youth-focused civil society groups, political parties are more likely to achieve their goals when it comes to promoting youth as voters. Political parties also need to look at their own internal structures and policies to promote youth participation in the management of electoral processes

Kudzai Goremusandu is a strategic, innovative, dynamic, goal getter, enterprising leader and leadership consultant. He is the founder of Africa Leadership Insights Institute .Kudzai holds an award for effective media communication from the University of Zimbabwe. Kudzai is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He can be contacted @ kgoremusandu@gmail.com

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Young South African voters hope for change

By Africanews.com

South Africa’s young voters said they hope for more jobs and a change in the distribution of resources, just one day after voting in the country’s national and provincial elections.

Many young South Africans complained about a lack of jobs, high crime rates, corruption and poor public services – issues the governing African National Congress has promised to address.

Young South Africans made up the majority of eligible voters who did not register to vote in the May 8 elections, raising concerns over apathy barely a generation after many of their parents won the right to vote for the first time.

Numbers released by the Electoral Commission of South Africa, indicated that nearly 27 million people registered to vote.

It however expressed concerns about 9.8 million eligible voters did not register.

Nigeria: Arewa youths, Atiku supporters task election petition tribunal on fairness, speed

By T.guardian.ng (Saxone Akhaine)

Arewa youths and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have admonished members of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to be firm, fast, independent and resolute as they handle the complaints of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar arising from the February 23,2019 exercise.

They reminded the panel that the judiciary remained the last hope for the growth and advancement of Nigeria’s democracy.

The Special Adviser on Youths and Support Groups to the PDP presidential standard-bearer, Ambassador Aliyu Bin Abbas, made the appeal yesterday in a statement in Kaduna.

According to him, the struggle to deepen the nation’s civil rule now rests on the judiciary after the contest.

He urged the tribunal to exhibit neutrality in the dispensation of justice.

Abbas said: “Honourable justices, as hearing of the presidential election petition is set to begin, I want to kindly remind you that, we, the Nigerian youths, have you as our last hope to restore democratic practice and principles in Nigeria and put the country back on the path of prosperity.”

He recalled that in the history of nation, the judiciary, which is the bastion and the pillar of every democracy and the most sacred institution, has never been this pressurised and attacked.

The aide continued: “This government has shown in some cases, flagrant disobedience to court orders thereby undermining the powers of the court, and this kind of behavior is very dangerous to our democracy.

“We see you as our last hope to believe and have faith in the Nigeria of the future. In my travels outside the shores of Nigeria, I have come across several Nigerians who left the country because they have lost all hope in the leadership of the nation.

“The last four years have been hellish to the Nigerian youths, as millions of them have lost their jobs.”

Lamenting what he called a trying time for the country, Abbas explained that “it is only the honourable justices of the Appeal Court, set to listen to the presidential election petition, that can restore the confidence of the Nigerian youths.”

Malawi: DPP youths donate towards mothers at Mitundu Hospital

By Nyasatimes.com (Alfred Chauwa)

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) inter- college youth wing has donated assorted items worth K400 000 to 53 postnatal mothers at Mitundu Community Hospital in the capital Lilongwe.

The DPP college youth cheering the mothers

Among others, the youths donated such items as soap, cooking oil and packets of sugar.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, DPP central region colleges youth director, Tennessee Chirambo, said: “We observed that our mothers in this hospital were lacking so many things after a needs assessment and we decided to come in and help.”

He added: “As responsible youths in this country we feel it is our responsibility to take part in contributing towards the development of this nation.”

According to Chirambo, they would soon be doing the same to Lumbadzi and Kawale hospitals.

Mitundu Community Hospital matron, Hanifa Likaka, said the donation had come at a right time.

“It will ease most of the problems these women are facing on day-to-day basis,” said Likaka.

Mitundu hospital is located in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Chiseka in Lilongwe district and delivers about 15 to 20 women per day.

South Africa: Non-voting youth are not simply apathetic

By Mg.co.za (Gugu Resha)

It is just hours before the 2019 national elections in South Africa and the hashtag #IWantToVoteBut is trending nationally on Twitter. Just 25 years ago South Africa had its first democratic elections after the fall of the apartheid government. It was a historical moment as millions of South Africans, who were previously excluded from voting by the former government’s racist policies, were exercising their right to vote for the first time.

And yet today, years later, many young South Africans find themselves unwilling to celebrate and exercise this inalienable right for various reasons. The youth demographic has had a notoriously low voter registration and lower voter turnout than any other demographic in recent years.

As a first-time voter, and a young person, I am tempted to map out an elaborate taxonomy of youth voters and all their political, economic and social grievances in order to paint a thorough account of why young people don’t seem interested in politics and voting.

The common go-to is that young people are apathetic and, although this may be true on some counts, there’s as much complexity in youth voters’ views as in any other demographic. No group is a monolith and should not be treated as such — and this should apply to young people, too.

The youth demographic in South Africa includes people aged from 15 to 34, with the legal voting age at 18 years old. That is a broad demographic in itself and the multiplicity of priorities in it is equally broad. This means that treating young people like single-issue voters by latching onto a single youth-friendly policy issue such as “youth unemployment”, however valid and popular, simply isn’t going to cut it. The youth are interested in more than one issue — we are interested in political parties’ plans for making higher education more accessible, how they plan to improve service delivery, their strategy for land reform and how they’re going to bring down the cost of living because we’re paying taxes too.

Young people are also not immune to the general decline in positive perceptions about politics and the effectiveness of democratic electoral processes in delivering services and other political goods. This despondence is only entrenched further by the tokenistic engagement of young people during election periods rather than truly including us in other decision-making platforms.

One can’t ignore the glaring absence of civic education in school curricula. It’s no wonder many South Africans are unaware of other ways to hold the government accountable outside of elections. Our schools do not teach the youth about how laws can be challenged, how the legislatures are comprised, how ward councillors and committees are formed or how they can challenge Bills et cetera. Politicians see votes as the only worthwhile form of participation when it is clear that it takes much more to keep a democracy alive and kicking.

Of course, there is the issue of not relating to the political ideologies or leadership of the competing parties. But in order to move past this hurdle, we need to do better by young people. We need to treat young people like the intelligent, capable and important demographic that we are. Parties and government need to engage young people and welcome them in spaces — not as tokens or a challenge to overcome, but as an opportunity to strengthen our democracy and to tap into innovative approaches and new thinking.

Gugu Resha has a BA honours degree in philosophy from Stellenbosch University and works as a youth programmes and capacity building intern for the South African Institute of International Affairs

Young voters eager for change in South Africa’s election

By Apnews.com

At 24, Abetse Mashigo was born a year after South Africa’s brutal apartheid system was dismantled. Yet she still feels frustrated by what she sees as continued economic inequality for its people.

And that will be on her mind as she and others vote May 8 to elect a president and parliament.

“South Africa is a great country, but it has many shortfalls,” Mashigo said, flicking her dreadlocks back with a flourish . “Seeing the spectrum of both wealthy and poor, it’s a constant everyday struggle.”

Many of the country’s young voters never directly experienced apartheid’s racial oppression and segregation that was ended in 1994 under South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, and his African National Congress. But they and others say they want to see more drastic change, and leaders of opposition parties are hoping to win their support.

Mashigo said she is angered by apartheid’s legacy, which keeps many blacks in poverty. She said she’s impatient for change, and that’s why she backs the Economic Freedom Fighters, known as the EFF, one of the three main parties among dozens vying for power in the election.

“I’m part of the Red Sea,” she said, jokingly referring to the bright red clothing worn by supporters of the opposition party. “I like the EFF because it is radical and different. It’s rebellious, and I like that.”

The party has pledged to seize white-owned land without compensation and nationalize mines and banks.

Mashigo’s 59-year-old father, Thamsanqa, watches with pride as his daughter voices her outspoken opinions. He shares many of her beliefs but has a more cautious approach, saying he is still undecided which party will get his vote.

Many older South Africans among the 26 million eligible voters still support for the ANC, which has governed for a quarter-century. But they also say they are disgusted by widespread corruption blamed on the party. President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to root out corruption in the country. A former trade union representative, he came to power in February 2018 after Jacob Zuma resigned amid mounting scandals.

The elections are taking place amid growing pessimism. About 64% of South Africans are dissatisfied with the country’s democracy, an increase from 34% who described themselves as unhappy in 2013, according to a Pew Research poll released Friday.

“I have voted in every election (since blacks could vote) and I’m not going to miss this one,” Thamsanqa Mashigo said. “I’ve never had doubts in my mind about who to vote for, but this time … I’m still deciding. … There is doubt in my mind.”

He described a “frightening” life under apartheid, when “people disappeared. I think some families even today don’t know what happened to their loved ones.”

When apartheid ended, “we were really excited about that. … We had a black government and Mandela was president. That was progress! … We said freedom at last was arriving in our lifetime!”

Mashigo, who works in information technology, said he is now disappointed with the ANC.

“The gap between black and white has just grown bigger and bigger. And by 25 years, I expect it to be much better. The gap should have closed, not totally, but at least be on the right track,” he said, adding that the ANC should have focused on education and health care.

Like his daughter, he complained about rampant corruption and the high unemployment rate of 27%.

Unemployment is an even more pressing among the young, with nearly 40% of those under 34 without jobs, according to the government’s Stats SA.

Although disillusioned with the ANC, Mashigo is suspicious of the Economic Freedom Fighters that his daughter supports.

He said he doesn’t trust the EFF’s firebrand leader Julius Malema because “he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.”

Malema was kicked out of the ANC after allegations of corruption surfaced.

“These guys are disgruntled, that’s all,” Mashigo added.

Nor is he convinced by the other major opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. It was started by white liberals but has attracted considerable black support, winning control of city councils in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It now has a black leader, Mmusi Maimane.

“I don’t think he controls the party the way a leader should control his party,” Mashigo said, leaving him still undecided about how to vote.

There are 5.6 million registered voters between the ages of 18 to 29, nearly one-fifth of those eligible to cast ballots.

They could boost support for the Economic Freedom Fighters, which got about 6% of the vote in the 2014 election and is widely expected to improve on that number.

“These elections are exciting for young voters,” said Lwazi Khoza, a 22-year-old university student and project manager for YouthLab, a youth advocacy group.

“The EFF are appealing to many young voters. The EFF leaders present themselves as rebellious and non-conformist,” she said.

Khoza, who will be finishing her degree this year, said many young voters want change.

“As a young black woman living in post-apartheid South Africa, I am frustrated by the slow pace of change. Yes, things have improved since the apartheid days, but not enough. Things have become stagnant,” she said.

“Are we free? Really? Or are we still being held down because of the past?” she said. “We cannot say we are on an equal playing field, educationally or economically. That’s why many young voters want to see change.”

Makhumo Kwathi, an unemployed 25-year-old who lives with her parents in Soweto, Johannesburg’s largest black township, said she is looking forward to voting.

“I want my voice to be heard,” Kwathi said. “To be quite honest, I’m not going to vote for the ANC, because the ANC has been giving us all these false hopes till now. … All these scandals … Now we can see where our money is going. The ANC is promising us the opposite of what they have been doing.”

Kwathi, a high school graduate who is looking for work as a bank teller, would not say which party she will vote for but said she wants a new government that will create more jobs.

“I want to see change. More youth need to be employed,” she said. “How can we, the youth, be the future of the country when we are unemployed? How can we go forward as a country?”