Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), under the project YouthDecide2019, are proposing that nomination fees for youthful candidates in next year’s tripartite elections should be slashed by fifty-percent, arguing that the current fees are too exorbitant for the majority of the aspirants who live in rural areas.

The youth CSO—Network for Youth Development (NfYD), Young Politicians Union (YPU), Youth Network and Counseling (Yoneco) and Youth and Society (YAS)—have said the project is a campaign focused on expanding youth participation in decision making positions and influencing development discourse in Malawi through the 2019 elections and beyond.

YouthDecide2019 campaign team leader, Charles Kajoloweka, of YAS, said youth aged between 18 and 35 are underrepresented in parliament and other key decision-making positions.

“If MEC [the Malawi Electoral Commission] and its stakeholders adopt the idea, more youths will appear on the 2019 tripartite elections ballot paper,” said Kajoloweka.

He added: “Looking at the population of the country, we find that the youth are in majority. Unfortunately, most of them are poor. We want young people to be given an opportunity to contest for positions in the next tripartite elections.”

During the 2014 Tripartite Elections, parliamentary aspirants were asked to pay K200 000 as nomination fees which, according to Kajoloweka, was too much for poor youths in rural areas who largely depend on social cash transfers.

And, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said the electoral body always works with stakeholders on issues concerning elections and that it is likely to consider the issue if the concerned party can table it at the stakeholders meeting.

She said: “Normally we have stakeholders meetings where we discuss issues. If they feel youths should be exempted, let them come and engage us.”

Williams Thumba, a youthful aspirant for Mulanje North Constituency, said in an interview yesterday that young people are underrepresented in political leadership because most of them do not have funds to run for elected positions.