Karonga youth clubs have vowed never to be used as pawns in the political game during the campaign period by greedy and selfish politicians in the run up to May 21 tripartite elections as one way of promoting political tolerance and co-existence amongst political parties in the lakeshore district.
The vow was made on Tuesday at Nyungwe Teachers’ Development Centre (TDC) an engagement meeting Justice and Peace (JP) of Karonga diocese organized for women and youth clubs aimed at involving them in the 50:50 campaign, dangers of getting handouts and also to urge them to refrain from indulging in political violence during campaign.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, secretary for Lupembe youth club Tawonga Mwakawanga said as youths from Karonga central constituency, they are ready to be agents of change as this is the only chance to clear their 2014 dented record that ended the constituency being nicknamed Benghazi.
Mwakawanga further said this name has not only dented Karonga central but Karonga as a whole hence using this opportunity to preach peace that would in turn convince everyone that Karonga is a peaceful place.
“We have welcomed this initiative and we are ready to be ambassadors of this message. We will take this message back to our villages, we will tell everyone to vote for female candidates, not to be enticed by handouts and above all to avoid political violence if we are to have peaceful elections,” Mwakawanga said.
Mwakawanga added that her club will bring together all Parliamentary candidates to engage them to talks that would end up sealing a deal not to buy beer for the youths to disturb their political opponents’ rallies.
Taking his turn, chairperson for Mwilang’ombe youth network (MYN, Wanangwa Mkandawire said time for political violence in Karonga is over, saying politicians should know that in a democratic country, there is no room for hate speech during campaign.
“This meeting has really come at the right time. We will engage our politicians to practice issue based politics by outlining to us what they have in store for us once we vote for them in the forthcoming elections,” Mkandawire said.
JP project officer for the Malawi Electoral Cycle System (MECS) Moses Mwakisalu said his organization decided to take this initiative to the youths and women as youths are said to be leaders of tomorrow who may shape it with their own hands and women are in large numbers who also may use that as an advantage to vote for their fellow ladies.
“We targeted youths because they have a future to shape as such messing it up with political violence may be suicidal as politicians may dump them any time after achieving their goals.
“And again, we want them to realize that handouts from politicians during campaign may be good for now but will have a negative developmental impact in the long run thereby, denying the growth of socio-economic development of our country,” Mwakisalu said.
About 80 young men and ladies from 25 youth clubs attended the meeting. UN Women is funding MECS project at JP Karonga diocese.