No ‘old’ president in 2014 – YADEMA Chanco symposium

The message from the youth of Malawi is quiet clear. It’s time to take over. During a public debate at Chancellor College on Saturday organised by the Youth Association for Democracy in Malawi (YADEMA) , a call was made to the youth to take up leadership roles and relegate experienced old guards into advisory role.

Lawyer Ralph Kasambara urged the youth to be “active citizens” and “apply active citizenship” in their school institution and develop a culture of democracy.

He said theyouth should rise up to the occasion and become leaders other than be used as bridges for old guards to rule and later oppress them.

Kasambara: Urges youth to be active citizens

Seasoned journalist Kondwani Munthali who was one of the panellist, bluntly urged the youths in Malawi to rise up and participate in the running of their country, questioning the relevance of ‘retirees’ in the modern democratic dispensation.

Munthali, a youth activist himself, said: “There was a bill in parliament that said you have to retire between 55 and 60…Do we need retirees to come and ran our country.

“We cannot continue suspending our participation in the running of our country. Do you need someone from retirement to rule you again,” said a determined Munthali, while attracting the jam-packed Great Hall into cheers.

The public symposium was held under the theme: ‘Do the youth have a role in Malawi democracy? ‘

YADEMA organised this event as part of the commemoration of the United Nations Human Rights Day that falls on December 10 every year.

Speaking earlier on, political science lecture who was at the centre of academic freedom impasse,  Blessings Chinsinga, observed that despite enjoying a numerical advantage the youths in Malawi have been marginalised on the political landscape.

He noted that the youth in politics have been mostly used as instruments for unleashing terror on political opponents as well as ‘protecting their father’.

“Youth in this country have been used as pawns in the political game and not as active protagonistS in the political game,” Chinsinga said.

He then called on the youths in Malawi to be transformed into “active protagonists” in democracy.

In his address, Chancellor College YADEMA students wing President Dave Namusanya encouraged his fellow youths to remain steadfast in their participation in democracy.

“The people leading us have borrowed the nation from us the youth. We have a role and responsibility to safeguard democracy. We should not allow somebody who borrowed the nation from us to destroy us,” said Namusanya, a 4th year Media For Development student.

Another contributor wondered if “there is democracy in Malawi” now that the country is sliding into dictatorship.

The debate was covered live on Zodiak Broadscasting Station and anchored by Wisdom Chimgwede.

The director of ceremonies also read some text messages and comments posted on YADEMA Facebook page. One of the messages he read was from Nyasa Times editor Thom Chiumia from his Facebook account name Thom Twee which said: “I am greatly impressed with YADEMA for engaging the youth in public debates. These kindof fora should be encouraged for the youth of Malawi to know, demand and defend their rights.”

YADEMA is a non-profit youth organisation that boasts of membership from diversity in terms of political affiliation, ethnicity and gender.

According to its interim chairperson lawyer Wapona Kita, the organisation constitutes of individuals who are interested in the promotion of democracy. It is aimed at promoting and protecting the ideals of democracy as stipulated in the constitution.

The Chancellor College public symposium was intended at exploring ways of how the youth can be empowered to meaningfully take part in the democratic processes with particular emphasis during times of elections, demonstrations and economic and good governance issues.

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