African Millennials: Steering a New Direction in the Electoral Process

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Generation Soweto: Millennials in South Africa. The Tech Generation in a Developing Nation. Photo/Blogs.indiewire.com

By Smart Emuoborsan

A genuinely inclusive society needs to ensure that its youth participate in all its affairs, that young people’s views are included in development policies and that young people develop leadership skills. In many African countries, youth have either remained marginalized or not played a role in the political process. This is largely due to institutional and policy constraints of the state and society.

Millennials in Africa and other developing countries have started taking the bull by the horns by participating in their country’s electoral process and making an impact through election wins, which enable them to steer their country’s policy direction to suit the present generation.

Although, overall youth participation in politics in Africa is very low, in the last few years, awareness is on the high side, consciousness is being awakened and youth are getting involved in the leadership of their countries or states. In Zimbabwe for example, 38-year-old Nelson Chamisa, who was born in Gutu, Zimbabwe is making a big difference in the country’s politics, as a member of the House of Assembly for Kuwadzana, Harare.

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Nelson Chamisa

Chamisa graduated from the Harare Polytechnic University of Zimbabwe and rose to prominence in 2003 as the youngest legislator when he was elected to parliament. He has served as the Secretary of the Zimbabwe National Student’s Union (1997), Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana (2003 and 2005), and as Secretary for Information and Publicity, MDC-T (2006). In 2011, he was elected as the party’s Organizing Secretary. He is currently a member of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Over the years, Chamisa has risen from student activist to become one of the key figures in Zimbabwean politics at 38 years old. Moreover, on May 26, 92-year-old dictator President Mugabe held a million man march, where Chamisa had this to say in response: organizing the march cost at least half a million dollars – money better spent on fighting poverty. “That effort is a waste of time, a waste of energy, that effort is a waste of resources,” Chamisa told Al Jazeera.

Politics at times can be a dirty game, not only in the developing nations of Sub-Saharan Africa but around the world. It is all the more important, as we move into the future, not leave the political process in the hands of old charlatans. Millennials should not become disenfranchised with the electoral process, and feeling like they cannot make an impact in changing government policy away from the status quo.

In South Africa, 36-year-old singer Lindiwe Mazibuko, was elected to the Democratic Alliance (DA) as Parliamentary Leader and National Spokesperson in 2009 and Shadow Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform in 2010. In October 2011, Mazibuko was elected by the DA’s Parliamentary Assembly as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. She is no longer a member of the National Assembly, ending her tenure in 2014, with some reports stating she chose to leave the DA but is still very much involved in the political process. It is possible she did resign her position because she was very critical of the almost total dominance of white males within the DA’s “brain trust.”

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Lindiwe Mazibuko

Born in Swaziland and raised in Durban, Mazibuko went to school at St Mary’s DSG in Kloof, where she matriculated in 1997. From there she went on to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree and then to the University of Cape Town, where she obtained a B.A. (French, Classics, Media & Writing) in 2006 and a B.A. Honors (Political Communication) degree in 2007. She has said she is utterly committed to politics and is grateful to have the privilege of being able to live her passion and be involved in the policy directives that affect her people.

The government is everyone’s business. Aristotle said that man is by nature a political animal, that is, politically inclined.Therefore, there is no need to wait to participate in politics or expressing interest in the leadership of one’s country at any level.

Let us rise-up and get involved in the steering of the ship of our countries to the right direction so as to ensure a secured future for children not yet born. With the level of awareness and political education in Africa, “money-bag” politics is well on the way to being eliminated.