Currently, in Malawi, there is so much talk about youth empowerment. This is due to the fact that most youths, whether educated or not have, nothing to do to sustain their lives as well as contribute to the development of the country.
It is the duty of the government to see to it that youths are engaged and taken care of. Unfortunately, nothing much has been done so far, except that a number of NGOs are seriously looking at ways and means to empower the youth.
Meanwhile, some of the youths have joined political parties and form youth wings to be running errands for the party in a bid to earn something from political bosses. In the process, they are cheated into believing that they are being empowered in politics. In reality, they are just handy men used for decampaigning or destroying opponents within and outside political parties. In some parties, youths are scared off by every member.
For example, DPP youths, who are popularly known as cadets, have once again shown their might. Malawians can remember the scaring display of panga-wielding DPP cadets who drove round the city of Blantyre singing death revolutionary songs. This was before the July 20 2011 national demonstrations against government. It was so surprising that President Bingu wa Mutharika did not condemn such barbaric behaviour. May be the leadership appreciated this as a way of displaying the might of DPP. In fact, if one happens to be in their bad books, must not dare cross their path, no matter where.
From the recent events at Parliament where President Peter Mutharika was presenting his State of the National Address (Sona) to Parliament, one cannot be wrong to conclude that DPP cadets have shown that they have no respect for their leaders. They behave as if they are on mercenary duties. This was well choreographed at Parliament. DPP cadets with bodies painted in party colours and half-dressed manned the gates to Parliament.
They were checking vehicles going in and out, and sadly Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati became a victim as they snatched her car keys and briefly denied her entry.
Newspapers have been awash with such embarrassing episodes of the DPP cadets, who even went as far as disrespecting the President as he delivered his Sona. There was too much noise from the visitors’ gallery, where the DPP cadets were seated. It was pathetic to hear President Mutharika appealing for protection from the Speaker till the cadets were finally sent out. In fact, just by disturbing the President, who is a leader of their party, proves that the behaviour of the DPP cadets leaves a lot to be desired.
It is, generally, believed that for the DPP cadets to be so vicious they are paid a certain amount of money. If this is what can be called economic empowerment then it is very wrong. Nobody can ever improve his/her life with erratic handouts. A word of caution to those politicians who use DPP cadets as mercenaries against opponents must know that time will come when the same mercenary cadets will turn against them. What it takes is for someone to pay cadets much more. In fact a broken promise is a sure way of sending cadets to work with your opponents.
The DPP cadets and other youths who accept to be abused for some meaningless handouts must know that they are far from being empowered.
Since there is not a big advocacy drive for youth empowerment, it is up to the youths themselves to be at the forefront. They should not, at any time, accept to be used as tools for political violence, let alone, accept to walk around with bodies painted with political party logos, just because they are poor. They must be mindful that no son of a political leader can do that, instead they are pursuing further education or working for their better future. Malawian youths should rise up and say ‘no’ to wrong and dangerous empowerment.