Written by JOE CHIBEWA
Malawi youth believe they're ready for the big leagues, MaraPost's Joe Chibewa reports
LILONGWE--Insisting that one be must experienced before assuming a leadership role is primitive for times have changed, says Wapona Kita, leader of the Youth Association for Democracy (Yadema).
Kita was reacting to Uladi Mussa, president of the tiny Maravi Peoples Party (MPP), who feels Malawi youth aren’t yet ready to demand a seat at the table. They’re still inexperienced, he said when asked for his take on the call by Yadema and others, two years before Malawians go to the polls to elect new leaders: a president and a whole national assembly.
Mussa says Malawians elected a leader without sufficient experience and the apparent inability to provide solutions to the country's economic problems stems from that inexperience. Pres Bingu wa Mutharika is an economist who worked with the international organisations and was a cabinet minister for a short period.
Known for being abrasive, he is often accused of not thinking through his decisions. One of the most controversial decisions of his presidency was the expulsion of Britain’s high commissioner to Malawi Fergus Cochrane-Dyet after he had described Mutharika’s leadership as autocratic.
The president ignored a warning by Britain, which was Malawi's main bilateral aid giver, not to chase its envoy out of the country. Britain later cut off aid to the southern African nation.
Mussa says having been a cabinet minister for close to eight years, he understands what leadership is about.
Malawi youth “can’t just wake up and start saying we want the presidency in 2014,” he says.
What should they do?
“Let them work and acquire necessary experience in various fields and when they are ready, they can make a run for presidency.”
One politician who wants to run for the presidency is Atupele, son of former president Bakili Muluzi. The 33-year-old lawmaker has created excitement among young people who say the time has come for young people to take on meaningful roles in governing the country. Atupele has met stiff resistance from his own party, the former ruling United Democratic Front his father co-founded.
Mussa says Malawi needs "experienced hands to run the government and offer opportunities to train young people how it is done.”
Rubbish, says Wapona Kita, a lawyer by training.
He says if Mussa’s thinking was what prevailed in the United States and Britain in recent years, Barack Obama wouldn’t be president of the most powerful nation in the world, and David Cameron wouldn’t be leading the United Kingdom. Both leaders are in their forties.
“Unlike in the 1960’s when politicians gave space to young firebrands, this time they want to use them and tell them you have no experience. That’s unacceptable!” says Kita.
He argues that the youth are in the majority in the country – about 54 percent by 2014 elections - and they need to have more than a say in how they wish to be governed, which they do by voting, but by actually being in charge.
Apart from Atupele who will be 36 in 2014, there is also Dama Phoya who is in his forties and has hinted a possible run for the presidency.
Expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party for rebelling against measures the government could use to deny people’s rights, Phoya is a former attorney general and justice minister who had a successful law career before joining politics.
Unlike past election cycles, the one coming up promises fireworks.
©2011 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment