Political parties defend their record on promotion of youth

Major political parties in the country have all said they are doing very well when it comes to promotion of youth participation in politics.

Martin Nkasala of DPP suggested adoption of a pro-youth campaign similar to the 50-50 campaign for women

Hellen Chabunya:Director of Recruitment for MCP

Osman Thousand: It is only UDF that has proved to walk the talk by creating an autonomous wing for the youth while Directors of Youth of other parties are old people

Senior members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP, the People’s Party (PP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) defended their respective parties’ records on promoting youth participation in politics at a Public debate organised by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) in Lilongwe on Thursday night.

“The DPP was formed in 2005, the announcement (of its formation) was made at Chancellor College which is a youthful institution,” DPP National Organising Secretary, Chimwemwe Chipungu said, adding that in the first executive committee, 60 percent of positions were taken by the youth.

He added that in the current executive committee elected at the DPP’s recent convention, 40 out of 72 members are below the age 35.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka said his party has always believed in the youth saying Aleke Banda was the party’s Secretary General at the age of 23 while Bakili Muluzi and Muwalo held the position of Secretary General before the age of 40.

“If you want to talk about the present, I am the youngest Secretary General of all parties that have a name in Malawi at the moment,” Mkaka said, insisting his party is providing space for youth to participate actively in politics.

People’s Party’s Secretary General, Ibrahim Matola also had only good things to say about his party which he described as having “tested leadership.”

“When Her Excellency Joyce Banda was president, more than nine cabinet ministers who were youth,” Matola said.

Taking his turn, Kandi Padambo, the Secretary General of United Democratic Front (UDF) said his party produced the youngest ever parliamentarian in Angela Zachapa and that the youngest of all Presidents Malawi has had was UDF’s Bakili Muluzi.

“At the last convention the UDF amended the party convention to create a standalone autonomous youth wing which will have its own President, Treasure General, Secretary General to the lowest position you can find in a political party,” Padambo said.

However, young people contributing from the audience had a different view.

Osman Thousand who identified himself as a UDF member said there’s hindrance to the youth participation in politics in most political parties in Malawi.

“It is only UDF that has proved to walk the talk by creating an autonomous wing for the youth while Directors of Youth of other parties are old people,” he said.

Hellen Chabunya, who identified herself as Director of Recruitment for MCP was more scathing in describing the situation facing the youth in Malawi politics.

“We are stagnant and not moving forward because we are defensive of our parties instead of discussing in an honest way about issues affecting people,” she said.

Martin Nkasala who said he became Deputy Director for International Relations in the DPP at the age 26 suggested adoption of a pro-youth campaign similar to the 50-50 campaign for women to help increase the number of youth into elected positions.

The youth at the debate, which was broadcast live on Times radio, identified the culture of handouts, prohibitive nomination fees, undemocratically held primaries and insufficiently trained youth as some of the problems preventing the youth from making it into parliament of local councils.

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Define youth for us please? cause these greedy people are turning youths overnight for opportunities.

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