KAMPALA, Uganda–Youths on the African continent say the biggest leadership gap is caused by failure of young people to occupy leadership positions at all levels. They blamed this on lack of commitment from governments to provide an enabling environment and policies for youths to meaningfully participate in leadership.
The youth were debating on a motion, “Harnessing the youth in leadership; How can young people play a more transformational role in policies and leadership” during a plenary session of the 4th Commonwealth Youth Parliament, on 17 April, 2018 at the Parliamentary chambers.
Abubaker Khalifa Usman (Nigeria) urged governments to emulate Nigeria which passed a law that allows youths aged 25 to contest for any elective position.
“Uganda has tried in promoting youth leadership through the five youth MPs, but this is not enough. , Llet us get our governments to give youths more space to lead Africa,” said Usman.
David Milamba (Malawi) also cited an example of Australia which voted a 22 year old as a senator in Parliament while Kenya voted a 23 year old as a Member of Parliament.
“Those leaders who have over stayed in power should know that their time is up,” said Milamba.
Hellen Bariki Mushi (Tanzania) encouraged African leaders to emulate former South African President, Nelson Mandela. She noted that Mandela set a footprint in transformational leadership while encouraging young people across the world to participate in leadership
“Governments should enhance the leadership capacities of youths by identifying and nurturing them instead of encouraging old people to hold onto power,” said Mushi.
Thalente Ndebele (South Africa) advised governments to review their policies and laws to allow more youths to occupy higher positions of influence since they are the majority.
“Youths should be allowed to be ministers and young women should particularly be encouraged to take up such positions. Young people are ready and willing to lead, we only need space,” said Ndebele.
Hamis Saidi (Tanzania) noted the importance of succession plans which target young people.
“Youths should be given opportunities to participate in policy development as a way of preparing them to take up leadership,” said Saidi.
Prince Matshwarakgole (Botswana) warned against discrimination against youth with disabilities. He said that Africa will not develop if the disabled youth are not involved in all programs.
“In the next Commonwealth Youth Parliament, Ii would like to see increased representation of youths with disabilities,” said Matshwarakgole.
Other youths however, noted the need for attitude change among young people, saying negative attitude has stopped some from becoming leaders.
“You need to show your governments that you love your countries and offer yourselves for elections while participating in election of other leaders,” said Pamela Abito.
Maria Natabi (Uganda) challenged youths to use the available platforms to play a transformational role in leadership.
“Can we use the existing students’ movement platforms to advance our agenda, but first we need to develop long term clear agenda because without an agenda, we cannot cause any transformation,” said Natabi.