Friday, 31 January 2014

My Take on having a youthful population

Developing countries are characterized by high rates of economic vulnerability, low life expectancy rates, low income per capita, high illiteracy levels and many other unpleasant features. The fertility rate of most African women due to several factors like early marriages does not help matters as population growth rate increases at alarming rates thereby exerting pressure on resources. However, as the population increases, the hardships also increase and there is always need to make things better for everyone in such a society.

As firstly pointed out, low life expectancy threatens foundations of any society no matter how strong the foundation might be. This scenario requires the youth to take up leadership and decision-making position mantles. There is need for active young people to compensate the losses. 

It is heartrending to note that the youth are the most vulnerable groups in such societies in spite of the fact that the youth are always energetic and capable of achieving a lot in the society. The youth are capable only that they have not been given a chance to prove their competence.

For instance, Malawi has an agrarian driven economy and due to a lack of mechanization in most of our local farms, our system of farming is labour intensive.  This is where strong and energetic people- the youth come in handy to provide the necessary effort. Furthermore, commercial farming greatly needs safe keeping of records and accounts. This is also a task that is very suitable to young people who are fresh and committed.

It is reported that “The great bulk of today’s 1.2 billion youth—nearly 90 percent—are in developing countries and that in the next few decades; these young people will most likely continue the current trend of moving from rural areas to cities in search of education as well as training opportunities, gainful employment and adequate health care services.” 

Thus, investing resources in young people is very necessary for their personal as well as societal development. There is need to set priorities right by investing in health care, education, agricultural development, and entrepreneurship and the youth population will be an opportunity for development and change.

The issue here is not about having a youth population that will only bring challenges to a country by demanding term jobs, health care services, schools and training institutions. Rather, it is about having a population of youth that is protected from a lot of challenges that affect their productivity. We can also achieve this by reducing the prevalence rate of early childbearing by keeping young girls in school and changing community norms and national policies about marriage age. 

As the UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said that “We must fulfil our obligations to youth by asking Governments to consider the contributions of young persons on all policies affecting them. Governments must honour this commitment. They must increase the financial, education and technical support made available to young people…It is high time that we stopped viewing our young people as part of the problem and started cultivating their promise and potential.”

We need to embrace the idea that for a country to develop, the consideration and involvement of young people is very crucial. Integration of the youth, who are potential agents of change, in development initiatives will help societies to realise and achieve positive change. 

Youth will be part of our society and we will continue to have them forming a greater part of our society more than other groups. All we need is to work on how we can benefit from their strength and energy by assisting them to unearth the potential they have.

We need to have the lens to view the youth population as:
  •   important actors in conflict prevention, peace building and post-conflict processes;
  •   important actors in the protection, preservation and improvement of the environment
  •   promoters of gender equality in all aspects of society
  •  pioneers of eliminating violence against girls and young women
  •   first line defence in the fight against AIDS through education and employment opportunities

A youthful population also has the drivers of innovation because “young researchers are more flexible, more inquisitive and full of zeal; hence they are easy to work with and drive the economy forward.”

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Why Should You Vote for Him or Her?

May 20 is just a few blocks away before eligible Malawians and resident foreign nationals will cast their votes in the first ever tripartite elections. Yes- this type of an election is the first one of its kind in Malawi whereby office bearers in ward councils, members of parliament for each of the 193 constituencies  and a president will all be voted for (or against) in a single election.

With precision and firm conviction, I will tell you that from today the 30th of January 2014, we have exactly 108 days before we go to the polls on May 20, this very same year. A lot of activities in preparation for the big day are taking place on the ground. For instance, political parties have started conducting primary elections that will help to decide who will represent them on a particular hot seat. Very soon, the whistle will be blown for the race to begging. Serious campaigning will then raise the tempo and the political atmospheric pressure in Malawi.

Likewise, all registered voters should also tighten their seat belts and make sure that they are attending political campaign rallies in order to make sure that they should vote wisely. Come the 20th May, everyone who will go to cast his or her ballot should be able to make a self assessment to find out who and why they will vote for a particular candidate.

The campaign period is normally a time whereby MPs who never visited their constituencies will start staying/camping right in the villages they shunned some years ago. They behave like hunters or fishermen as they use so many irresistible baits to catch the attention and support of innocent and poverty stricken villagers. This is the time whereby some unprincipled politicians become men and women of the people. They leave their shockingly expensive luxury cars and start walking on foot, eating from the same plate with villagers and they carry themselves in very different demeanors quite different from their usual selves. For them, it is a time to obtain ‘poached eggs under false pretenses’.

 In terms of material handouts, people receive blankets, soap, flour, money etc just to buy the votes of innocent people. This is also a time aspirants spend huge sums of money to construct bridges, complete construction of school blocks that were abandoned due to lack of construction materials and some even reach the point of funding church building projects.

This is where the trick lies, once they have been voted by the unsuspicious constituents, all the good things go away with them to the capital city. This is a cancer that stagnates and slowly kills people’s development needs and aspirations.

Thus, the bad choices that people make in an election stay and torment them for five years. This is the reason why Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) with support from National Democratic Institute is advocating for issue based voting. This is a move away from a scenario whereby people were voting for contestants who were giving them handouts to voting for a contender who shows that he/she has the welfare of people at heart.
Voting for a candidate who was offering money, clothes or food stuffs during campaign rallies has always been a usual feature in the previous elections that Malawi has held. The aftermath of it has always been very disastrous to the development and welfare of the electorate.
 Thus, issue based voting will help the electorate and the aspiring contenders to talk about matters that really need to be addressed in their wards. The aspirants are also supposed to produce comprehensive manifestos and before casting the ballots, the electorate will know if and how a particular aspirant will address certain developmental issues once in power. The aspirants will then make a pact with the electorate by signing a social contract in accordance to what a particular aspirant promises to do once they vote for him or her.
It is a waste of an opportunity to vote for a contestant simply because he or she clothed or fed you once or twice during the campaign period- How are your other everyday needs be met? Identify issues that need to be addressed in your area and then find out whether your aspirants will address them (and how) or not.
Vote for contenders whose manifestos are clear and in accordance to the needs of the people!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Youth and Their Right to Vote

Young people have a right to form their opinions and they need to express them freely without fear. Further to this, the youth also have the right to choose what is good for them in the society and this year, Malawi will hold tripartite elections. This is when the electorate will choose their ward councilors, parliamentarians as well as a president of their choice.
In this regard, those who are 18 years old and above will exercise their right to choose who they want to be in power up until the year 2019. The right to vote was bestowed upon the youth because they are capable of making right choices. They have the ability to make things work in the society and sometimes in a way that probably no one would imagine.
The youth form an entity that has an aptitude for social change and national prosperity. When the youth are involved in forming national agendas,   their overwhelming contribution is always rewarding. Almost everyone one knows this fact except, maybe, the youth themselves.
The question that we must ask ourselves is ‘why do the youth shun their rightful duty when it comes to taking part in issues of national importance?’
Do they feel it is the duty of older people or they think they are not wise enough? There could be a number of answers to this.
However, I consider it as an obligation of our local, religious and political leaders to encourage young people to participate actively in politics. My fellow young Malawians, remember that we have the tripartite elections ahead of us on the 20th of May this year and it is our right to vote for leaders of our choice.
Remember every vote counts...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Women/girls form the most powerful force with an enormous potential to advance positive change in our society. It is an indisputable fact that if they are given a chance or empowered, they can do great things to the development of our communities and to the world at large. As such, there is a great need to make sure that women and girls are given a chance to unpack their capabilities for the betterment of our society.

Conversely, there are some mischievous men or boys in some schools and workplaces who abuse women or girls. Women and girls are victims of sexual harassment and studies have shown that individuals who sexually harass other people at work or at school do not stop the malpractice mainly because
the victims do not report such instances of abuse.
The abused women and girls suffer in silence due to a number of reasons like the fear of losing their jobs or harming their careers. In addition to this, the abused women and girls also feel that other people will not believe them and that nothing will be done to stop the harassment.

How do you feel when a woman/girl is being sexually harassed at school or at work?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Tripartite Elections in Malawi: A Special Focus on Women and Youth in 2014

On May 20 this year, eligible Malawians and resident foreign nationals will be busy casting their votes in the first ever tripartite elections. This is a chance that comes after every five years when democratically empowered citizenry and foreign residents exercise their right to choose leaders of their choice to take up the mantle.

Good news from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is that the electoral governing body has registered 7, 537,584 voters. This number is against a projected number of 8,009,734 people. This means that 94.10 of eligible constituents have registered to vote.

Another good thing is that nomination fees for female candidates in parliamentary and local government categories are considerably lower and this will definitely enhance the participation of females who are somehow economically less empowered due to some other reasons as compared to men. Below is a list of how the nomination fees are;
·         Candidates for Presidential Elections:

·         Candidates for Parliamentary Elections:
K200,000.00 for male candidates
K150,000.00 for female candidates

·         Candidates for Local Government Elections:
K20,000.00 for male candidates
K15,000.00 for female candidates

The youth and women have been underrepresented in various political and influential positions in Malawi and in fact, the trend is quite common in most sub-Saharan African countries. Thus, the underrepresentation has had a number of devastating effects on the youth and women. By extension, this has also led to low productivity in the countries because larger sections of capable people in the population are left out in the development efforts.

I, therefore, would like to encourage all eligible women and young people who would want to vie for a position in the forth coming tripartite elections in Malawi to do so without further ado. As I will be publishing this blog, we will have exactly 120 days before the polls and submission of nomination papers will be from 10th to 14th February, 2014.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Perceptions of the Youth on SRH

Young people have expectations in their individual lives and this happens to be what guides their day to day endeavours. This is what informs them on how they spend their time, energy and resources. Aspirations differ from one young person to another and this is hale and hearty except that some things that young people desire are inconceivable and dangerous. 

These are issues concerning how they perceive alcohol, drugs and how they make out their sexual and reproductive life as well. How do you keep your distance from these things?

 I know that my fellow young people out there form opinions on whatever phenomenon they perceive in this world. However, what matters is how they perceive as well as analyze the things they see. Every young person out there really needs to ask him or herself how they perceived their lives on the three topical issues I have raised above. Are the opinions you formed in 2013 on alcohol and drugs as well as on your sexual reproductive health worth pursuing in 2014? Is there any prospective benefit in whatever choice you made?  

These are seemingly dull and simple questions but the big deal comes into play when one starts answering them with sobriety and honestly.

In the years I have spent in this world, both as a little  child and now as a young man, I have come to terms with the adage that states that ‘a child is father to a man’. My fellow youth should know that whatever we do as young people will determine who we are going to be as adults. Our childhood choices will definitely creep into our adulthood. The men and women we will become in the near future will be shaped by who we are today and what we are doing today.

Choices keep young people out of prison; keep them safe, alive and the very same choices if made without thinking properly  also lead to the opposite direction. Now the question is; how do young people today perceive the issues pertaining to their Sexual Reproductive Health? Do we really know that our sexual reproductive health is an issue of life or death or we dismiss such an issue as some kind of a joke?

Perceptions and choices on your sexual reproductive health mattered then and still matter now more especially in this New Year!