The past few weeks have been quite hectic in the political circles. As 2019 draws near, there has been quite some activities by political parties and their supporters in a bid to woo the masses to their sides.
There are others, the DPP, for instance, who have been quite active with ‘development rallies’—although it is obvious these are nothing but political party rallies, where critics of the party are bashed left, right and centre.
The social media, too, is getting quite exciting with political messages, pictures, videos that are being shared. A couple of weeks ago, one picture got tongues wagging. It is a picture of young men and women belonging to two different political parties—DPP and MCP.
The picture shows MCP youths smartly dressed in their party colours while the other picture shows DPP youths—mostly male, who have painted their bodies in their party colours.
Clearly, the pictures put side by side are meant to compare and contrast the two youth camps, and their parties by extension. While people have gone to some length articulating the differences in the two pictures, I, for one, see no difference in the two pictures.
What I see in them are youths who are staunch supporters of their parties and I also see youths who are being used by politicians not in very positive way, but rather a negative way to achieve the party godfathers’ interests. They are a means to the politicians’ end. Therein lies the problem when it comes to youth participation in politics.
The youth in Malawi since independence, have been used as tools for achieving political interests of those either already in power or wanting to obtain power. The youths are only ‘remembered’ when there is need to rough up some political opponents or to dance at the so-called ‘development rallies’.
However, the role of youths in politics goes beyond painting themselves in red or blue colours. It is more than hand-clapping and being used to silence dissent within and outside their parties.
The youth need to actively take part in politics by, among other things, ensuring that leaders are held accountable, take part in policy formulation that serves their interests.
Politics isn’t all that dirty. It is a decent game played by dirty people who in the end have tarnished the image of politics as a career. This is where I feel that the youth should come in to clean up the bad image of politics.
Malawi is full of youths who are capable of contributing to the development of this country in a positive way.
But, for the youths to show their talents, there is need for the creation of space where they can showcase their potential. Political parties need to have policies that promote positive and meaningful youth participation from the grassroots to the highest positions.
Political parties need to stop painting a picture of youths as useless toys that they can play with and dump when they no longer need them.
As for you the youth, start demanding your rightful place in the country’s politics, which is not just about body-painting, hand-clapping or being used for all the wrong reasons. You can do better.
History tells us that most of those who fought for the freedom of our country weren’t 87-year-olds, they were young men and women, burning with passion and love for their country.
Let 2019 be the year Malawians youths will step forward and take part in politics.
As for the old people, don’t stand in the way of young blood in your parties. Give it space to flow for the good of the country.