The 2019 Tripartite Elections make 2019 an important one for the youth.
Malawians will decide who should lead them for the next five years and preparations must begin now.
This calls for active engagement of all quarters, including young people who constitute the majority of Malawi’s population.
Politics is mostly said to be a dirty game and many restrict their involvement to WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages and other social media instead of physical participation to influence the process.
While we are stuck on the social media and other talk shops, not much has changed on the political scene and the way decisions are made.
If we, the youth, decide to remain disengaged in the electoral processes, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We want change, but not taking up the prescribed challenge to achieve the change we need.
It is good that we are engaging in politics on digital platforms, but we cannot run away from institutionalised way of choosing the type of leadership we want lest we also experience the frustrations young Britons experienced during the Brexit Referendum.
An online poll by YouGov suggests that 71 percent of 18-24-year-olds were against Britain’s exit from the European Union, but did not turn out to the polling station.
This means they did not have sufficient numbers to swing the vote. Instead, once the result were out, they launched a protest petition on Facebook—a little too late.
Young Malawians have complained enough and the next poll presents an opportunity for us to swing the vote our way. We are the giant share of the population.
Here are a few ways we can achieve the change we want.
Obviously, decide to run for office!
You are not too young to do so. Recently, I attended a community meeting to discuss security issues. At the end of the agenda, my brother’s friend was unveiled as 2019 aspirant ward councillor.
The young man, aged 26, has decided that it is time to put the “Nothing for us without us” motto into action.
We may be limited by our age to run for presidency, but we can surely convince our wards to elect us as their representatives to build our capabilities for higher roles.
Besides, youthful Malawians can also take part in the 2019 polls by going to cast their vote. This is an opportunity for the youth to be the swing vote. They are in majority and most of them are going to be voting for the first time.
Young people must put aside their misgivings with politics and vote, not boycotting or walking away from the electoral process.
Every election is a game of numbers and the power young people have in numbers may not amount to anything if not used in opportune moments to influence the outcome of national elections.
Some young candidates running in 2019 may not be political heavyweights, so votes from their peers could make a difference.
Lastly, it is important for young people to support and inspire each other to participate in the process. There has never been a greater time for youth organisations to play their role in influencing youth to realise that voting is a noble contribution to Malawi’s development. Civic education will be key as most millenials will be voting for the first time.
I remember holding discussions with some peers of mine who said they are coaching, strategising and financially supporting youthful aspirants vying to run for office in their communities. This is good.
It will be cool if all institutions that claim to be supporting the youth step in and support the youth that are running for office. n