AS I SEE IT
I GREW up in a family of die-hard supporters of the congress movement.
I owe my political consciousness to my late maternal grandmother.
Each day she would sit down with us and instil within us values and politics of the congress movement.
I thoroughly enjoyed the political lessons I learnt during those formative years.
But deep down in my heart I always questioned the role of youth in national politics.
I believe youth is a time to learn from seniors on how we conduct our politics.
Unfortunately, the common trend is that African leaders abuse youths in pursuit of their selfish agendas.
I will illustrate this point by citing events across the border in neighbouring South Africa.
This is with reference to the African National Congress (ANC) youth league’s president Julius Malema.
In the run-up to the ANC conference in Polokwane, Malema raved and ranted in defence of Jacob Zuma.
Malema fought tooth and nail to protect and defend Zuma.
I am certain that Malema could have sold his soul to the Devil for Zuma if the situation called for it.
I have heard political leaders describe youths as the watchdogs of the party.
“You have to be vigilant and help fight the enemy,” some politicians tell their youths.
It is clear that politicians want to use the youths to fight their own dirty battles.
We have seen how some leaders create militias to protect their positions.
They brain-wash the youth militia and make them commit heinous crimes against humanity.
Political parties also use the youth to demonise individuals who pose a threat to the leader.
This is because some political leaders want to hang on to their positions for too long.
We have seen youths being abused at political rallies as they sing vulgar and derogatory songs about political rivals.
They are also used to physically intimidate political opponents within and outside the party.
Last year, a group of disenchanted politicians left their party in protest over what they said was harassment by party youths.
We have seen political leaders shamelessly use the youths in their power struggles.
For various reasons the youths seem to be vulnerable.
Politicians seem to abuse the youths because they realise that they are risk-takers.
Our youths think their only role is to act as militants in defence of the party.
Some even think there is value in being seen as hooligans.
The problem is that the youths believe that they are important and that they will be rewarded for their hooliganism.
But too often this is not the case.
Politicians are quick to discard the youths after using them to fight their dirty wars.
I think it is important to sit down and analyse what should be the role of youths in our political parties.
Are youths being trained and nurtured to succeed the current political leaders or are they just being used as tools only to be later discarded?
Our youths across political party lines are generally compromised.
I believe the youth should concentrate on policies that promote our common good.
The youths must have a say in the running of their political parties.
They must also be able to resist being used by their seniors as cannon fodder during election times.
The youth must also be given influential positions so that they can be able to influence national policies.
I believe our youths need to grow politically.
We would want to see youths rise through their party ranks and assume national leadership positions.
There is more to leadership than being used to bash political opponents.
The sooner youths realise this truth the better.