It is becoming clear every day that our political parties have engaged in a campaign mode. We have various political rallies, and different forms of party and candidate branding taking place directly or indirectly to tune our minds to consider voting for this party or candidate. Because of this, I felt that this is the right time for us as a nation to reflect on various issues before we make a decision on who we want to vote for in 2019.
The global community has agreed that youth participation in governance and participation in political and decision-making processes is key to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs), Agenda 2063 and the Malawi Growth and Development Agenda.
Just a reminder, in Malawi, the national youth policy defines a young person as someone who is between the ages of 10 and 35. The national youth policy does not mention of ‘youth at heart’ or ‘youthful’ for those who are above 35. Therefore, everyone who is above 35 is not a youth.
It is estimated that over 60 percent of the Malawi population is below 35 years. To what extent have the various political parties taken on board these people? Does the legal and policy framework in Malawi allow people who are below 35 to run for local government, parliamentary seat and presidential office?
Does Malawi have young people who have proven that they can deliver from 2014 to present? What impact have they made in their countries and society? Are the young people interested in politics and willing to contest?
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based Happy Kayuni in his article ‘In Malawi, women lag in political participation; support for women’s leadership declines’ states that women’s representation in Parliament decreased to 17 percent in the 2014 elections, after having risen from six percent in 1994 to 22 percent in 2009.
The article further highlights that: 1) Malawian women are less likely than men to discuss politics and to be interested in public affairs.2) Women in Malawi are less likely than men to participate in political activities. 3) The proportion of Malawians who say women should have the same chance as men to be elected to political office has declined since 2012, from 78 percent to 61 percent.
As we think of increasing female participation in governance and participation in political and decision-making processes in Malawi, who are the women that we believe can serve Malawi better? What impact have they made in their community and country since 2014? Are the women interested in politics and willing to contest? How many parties in Malawi have women in decision-making positions?
In 2019, as a country, we need to start thinking of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in governance and participation in political and decision-making processes. The 2008 Malawi Population and Housing Census indicates that Malawi has over 500 000 PWDs which translates to four percent of the population. How many parties in Malawi have persons with disabilities in decision-making positions?
Are PWDs interested in politics and willing to contest? Does our environment allow for PWDs to contest? Are Malawians willing to vote into power a PWDs? What’s the perception of PWDs in Malawi?
As we are drawing close to 2019, I believe we need to start taking stock of what each political party has done from 2014. What are some of the notable achievements that each of the party has registered? Where do the parties place their priorities in terms of their budget? To members of political parties holding public positions, what have they done from 2014 to present to achieve those plans highlighted in their manifestos?
Let’s forget the number of people who have attended which rally. Let’s forget which person has joined which party. Let’s focus on the main thing, the development of Malawi. It will be easier to cut through the noise and see who is really here to work with to achieve Malawi’s dreams and aspirations. na