GIVE THEM A CHANCE

MOURINE KAMAU: Youth leagues are stock for political parties

Mandela with others formed the ANC Youth League in 1944 and made it one of the most vibrant organs of the party.

In Summary

•Excluding the youth is a huge risk that no political party should dare take.

•Parties must not only have the league as a formality bit to seriously address young people needs but offer them an avenue for political growth.

Hundreds of youth attend a political rally in Nairobi
Hundreds of youth attend a political rally in Nairobi
Image: FILE

Youth leagues are a critical entity for political parties to secure their future.

However, in the political circles and doctrines in Kenya, they still have to contend with minuscule contributions.

This even as the major parties in the country lend unchecked space and finances to the older and experienced politicians to run the outfits.

The youth are often relegated to the periphery as parties draft manifestos, key policies and even bills, even though they are the majority and deserving of more space to invest their knowledge and skills.

Often they are ignored due to imagined inexperienced, shallow pockets and other malignant characteristics that often denigrate the additives they could bring to the political circles.

Mention of the youth league in politics immediately evokes memories of the critical role played in nurturing Nelson Mandela into a revered leader.

The anti-apartheid icon with others formed the African National Congress Youth League in 1944 and made it one of the most vibrant organs of the party.

The leaders would despite suffering lengthy incarceration for independence get into power in 1994.

Despite such historical feats most political parties worldwide are yet to fully embrace youth league.

The inter-parliamentary union report that people aged 20-44 comprised 57 per cent of the voting-age population but only 26 per cent of MPs.

Youths under 30 represent 1.9 per cent of world MPs but there are none in more than 80 per cent of the upper house of parliament.

This resonates with the prevailing political context in Kenya.

Despite being the majority of the electorate the presentation of youth in political parties is minimal.

The number of youth MPs increased after the last election but they still make less than ten per cent in both houses.

Although most political parties have active youths league with membership and leadership from the grassroots to the national level, their contributions are often dismissed as some party mandarins regard them as political neophytes not worthy of their time.

This must therefore change. Excluding the youth is a huge risk that no political party should dare take.

Parties must not only have the league as a formality bit to seriously address young people needs but offer them an avenue for political growth through mentorship and provide leadership opportunities through nominations.

The proposed Political Parties Act amendment that seek to peg 20 per cent of the Political Parties Fund to a representation of youth and other special interest groups in parliament is therefore welcome and should be pursued.

Student, Maasai Mara University

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris