The say that ‘youths are future leaders’ seems to irk many as authorities take power to abuse the young leaders instead of nurturing them to be responsible leaders.
Since time immemorial, youths have been used as weapons of violence for politicians to suppress opponents.
Under Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which was led by Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the youths were used to terrorise all those that had contrary opinion to the president.
Although Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) established during MCP was meant to have a role to play in some sectors of the country like in agriculture where young people had to learn farming in estates, the recruited also became agents of violence to opponents of the “life president” that Malawi had.
With the irony of being named “born frees”, the young generation in Kamuzu Banda’s regime were taken as worshipers to the first Malawi black leader, dancing in rallies that “Angwazi” had with no excuses, the only reason that you could be spared with is a proof that you are sick, and not just a mere headache.
School classes were cancelled for students to stand along the way to clap hands, when the mighty leader had left Sanjika Palace to tour crops in the fields.
The youths became the instruments of fear, through the Malawi Youth League also locally known as “Chiswe” (termites) for their red uniforms. They were indeed eyes and ears of Kamuzu, quashing all his real and suspected enemies.
Though the don of multiparty in 1994 brought hope to the youths, the hope was not to be realised, the United Democratic Front (UDF) approach to young people was the same. The grouping under the name Young Democrats (YD’s) was engaged in beating up opponents of Bakili Muluzi who was the President.
Their abuse had to cost lives, mentioning the likes of YD Charles Waya who got killed after he was reported to have been getting favors from both Muluzi and his political rival then Gwanda Chakuamba.
Waya was reported to have torched Chakuamba’s official vehicle of opposition leader of Parliament.
When the late Bingu Wa Mutharika came under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the story of abuse continued under the banner of Youth Cadets.
A day before July 20 in 2011, Youth Cadets were seen in DPP vehicles brandishing panga knives to block demonstrations against Bingu’s government by Malawians.
Peoples Party (PP) under Joyce Banda was noted to have had little in violent acts of engaging the youth in beating opponents, still the percentage of abuse was there during her two year rule.
Youths were painted orange, the color for PP, singing for the first Malawi female president.
Although this time around the Youths cadets have reduced the violent acts following the coming back to power of DPP after it got more votes in 2014, the abuse is still there, young people are being painted with messages, “A Pitala 2019 boma” on their bodies .
Reports reveal some youths were hired by DPP officials to cause havoc in the lower shire during the recent October by-elections.
But are the youths meant for this in Politics?
Young Christian Workers (YCW) from Nthawira Catholic parish bemoans the abuse arguing the youths have a role to play in politics beyond dancing for political leaders.
A Member for YCW from Nthawira, Mariana Sitima, who is also leader at large for the grouping, faults politicians for the abuse, arguing the youths were meant to be cultured to be good politicians by those that are in power today in readiness of leadership in future.
“Our role is not getting painted, we are not meant for that, we can be engaged in policy formulation for our country to get development, it worries me most to see my fellow youths being abused just like that, with little money that they can survive on it to have basic needs,” said Sitima.
She further blamed corruption in the country arguing some youths get involved in abuse to get favors from those that are in power.
“Some get involved in the abuse to get favors from politicians, they are cadets and they are rewarded for that, for example we had reports about police recruitment being dominated by those that are from the ruling DPP,” She added.
Concurring with Sitima, Emmanuel Magomero (Nthawira Parish YCW chairperson), blamed the perception that politicians have to use the youths in abuse and not on issues to do with development.
“It is a sad story for Malawi that we are being abused, politicians could have used our energy to champion various policies that the country has,” said Magomero.
However, Political expert Wonderful Mkhutche has blamed the youths for accepting to be abused by politicians.
“To be misused is a decision of the youths themselves. Politicians should not be blamed on this. Malawi needs politically enlightened youths who are able to understand their rightful place in politics.”
“When a politician comes your way, it is always an individual choice whether to be misused or not. There is no integrity in most youths when it comes to politics. They would rather kill or shame someone or themselves for politicians. But we are a new generation. We need to rise above the partisan differences and be democratic players in a progressive manner,” said Mkhutche.