Firstly, I would like to wish all aspirants who have submitted their nomination forms to the electoral governing body in Malawi, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). On a special note, I would really like to hail all aspirants who have the best interests of the youth, women and children. To them, I will say is ‘bravo! You are in the right direction!’
The youth, women and children are among the most neglected in our society. Their issues are either wittingly or unwittingly forgotten in the manifestos of our esteemed politicians.
It is not proper for me to say our political leaders consciously forget to devise mechanisms for addressing the challenges which the youth, women and children face. I will avoid taking that path because saying so will put me in a position to speculate the reasons why our well-regarded governance gurus tolerate the vulnerability of the youth, women and children.
However, it is an open secret that the youth and women are the most marginalised groups in our society. Women are denied access to loans and other economic opportunities without any justification what so ever. This happens while we fully acknowledge the fact that the number of widows in this country reached an unacceptable level a long time ago. We all know and acknowledge that most subsistence farmers in this country are women and yet they cannot be entrusted with soft loans to purchase farm in-puts.
A closer inspection also reveals that women fail to access family planning methods because clinics/health centres are not anywhere near their vicinity. The situation is that the nearest clinics they may get are privately owned and the prices for family planning methods are exorbitant like aeroplane spare parts. They simply cannot afford and the end result is that their fertility rate is just too high. With our ‘seemingly’ patriarchal society, they are divorced at will and without any prospect of getting child maintenance from their ex-hubbies.
Now, how can the youth acquire good quality education when they cannot afford school fees? After some struggles, some complete their higher education studies only to be told by the government itself and three quarters of prospective employers that the minimum qualification for a particular job is an experience of not less than three years on top of an academic certificate. Now, where do they expect someone fresh from college to obtain such a work experience from? Thus, the unemployment rate among the youth is just too high and they are not even given other economic opportunities to enable them to venture into businesses. A lot of young people out there are lacking vocational skills and nothing is being done about that.
I would also like to briefly look at Malawian children who really need good health care services and early childhood development centres among other needs.
Let us all reach our destination- this is where I was driving at: the campaign for this year’s tripartite elections should not be riddled with mere rhetoric and hate speeches. We have gone through such politicking and it does not contribute anything to the welfare of those who are at the bottom of the pyramid. The communities need to make sure that the campaign is based on nothing else but issues.
Thanks to National Democratic Institute (NDI) for supporting good governance processes in Malawi. NDI has also supported YONECO in all of its efforts of ensuring that Malawians should really benefit from their right to vote. YONECO has so far made remarkable strides with the support that NDI has rendered to the Issue Based Campaign Initiative. In this regard, YONECO has trained communities on how they can identify communal problems as well as issues and how they can engage the aspirants to explain and promise how they will address the problems. The aspirants need to sign social contracts and be held accountable when they are not fulfilling their obligations.
As we are remaining with only 93 days before we go to the first ever tripartite elections on 20th May,2014, I urge all people, men, women and the youth to focus on how our aspirants will address the perennial problems that affect the youth, women and children. It is time to go behind the lies by ensuring that the promises our aspirants make regarding the welfare of youth, women and children and the communities at large are supported by their signature on a social contract form.