While our fellow youths on the streets were busy on counters tasting every type of drink as part of the Christmas fun, we, the few, spent our festive season under the flowering trees along the streets, reflecting on the future of the country. Yes, after all the festive season parties, the country’s future will remain and the need to shape it now will not move an inch.
Our thinking is oiled by the slogans adopted by many political parties in the country. Think of the UTM slogan Tsogolo Lathu Lowala and the Agenda for Change by United Democratic Party (UDF).
Don’t be surprised with our sampling. It is in the public domain that the future of Malawi’s politics lies in the hands of the youths, not only as voters, but also leaders. With a youthful population, the youth are expected to drive the voting agenda come May 21. Ofcourse, it will not be the first election to demand the youth magic.
In 2014, for instance; we saw President Peter Mutharika hand-picking a youthful Saulos Chilima as running mate to attract the youths vote. Joyce Banda too handpicked Sosten Gwengwe.
However, next year’s polls are coming with their own history. Quite fascinating is that two of the five major political parties on the land are being led by what many are calling ‘youthful leaders’. For the first time, two candidates aged 45 and below, will be on the ballot paper. The lowest age so far.
But we, on the streets are aware that the National Youth Policy says only those aged between 10 and 35 are legal youths. Anyway, we also believe having someone in the 40s is not a serious goof in as far as youth interests are concerned. To some extent, we believe they share the youth’s interests.
But still, we would be happy to have a 35-year-old leader on the presidential ballot paper. If such candidates go round and says our future, we will agree with them. We, on the streets repeat that, so far, there is no youthful presidential candidate in Malawi. If indeed, they mean it, then they would have paved the way to a truly defined youth by our policy to lead their parties. Unless you tell me the policy does not affect politicians.
The first time Malawi politics welcomed the so-called youths on the ballot paper was in 1994. Did we have the youth policy then? I doubt, but a young president compared to the former, Bakili Muluzi, then 52, carried the day. When we thought the ages would be declining, the opposite has been true. Those in their retirement age have been at the helm of political leadership.
They say mbewa zikasowa amanona ndi aswiswiri, the electorate seem to have plan B. We will all continue to sing and claim we have two youthful presidents—Atupele Muluzi and Chilima—on the 2019 ballot paper.
The two have declared that they are going solo, but we, on the streets, have chosen to keep our hopes on them under the mat. Promising youthful politicians in the country have let us down several times.
Think of Atupele’s candidature during the past elections. A promising son has now turned an example of how youths in politics can let down the electorate. Atupele’s quest for leadership is what has reduced UDF to a zero.
We were recently shocked to hear the party’s leadership announcing they will go it alone. Really? Who is lying to Atupele? We on the streets can bet our lives that UDF can not pull a surprise in 2019 if it insists to go it alone. Even Chilima’s candidature continues to score low in giving us hope that on its own can unseat the ruling party.
In one of our previous entries we theorised possible alliances that can win the elections, but none seem to have listened. Not that they want, but greed is at play. Each opposition candidate feels too big to be in some party’s armpit. They all want to rule us. But why? Whose interest? I thought the opposition are with us calling for change, if yes, why not join forces?
Allow us, the angels living on the streets to repeat that if this greed is not sorted now, it will divide the votes and award the crown to the devil with a minority vote. We shall repeat this column after May 21. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to those on the streets and our dear readers. Adios 2018. n
—*Sharra is a guest writer of this column.