Politics needs new blood
ACCORDING to statistics, Africa has the youngest population in the world – 200 million youth, and that figure is expected to double by 2045. This, experts warn, means we must invest in the future of young people in order to take our continent forward.
In South Africa, young people below the age of 35 make up at least 66% of the 54 million population, according to StatsSA. Yet you don’t get this sense when looking at the leadership race in the governing ANC. Political parties in the region, particularly the former liberation movements now governing, like the ANC (South Africa), Swapo (Namibia), Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe) and Frelimo (Mozambique), don’t seem to pay attention to the lack of youth in their top echelons.
At least five candidates are now reported to be vying to replace President Jacob Zuma, 74, at the ANC conference in December. They are Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, 68; Cyril Ramaphosa, 64; Jeff Radebe, 63; Mathews Phosa, 64; and Baleka Mbete, 67.
By the 2019 elections, they will all be in their late 60s or early 70s. And if they make it into the highest office, they will all be in their 70s by the end of the five-year term.
The situation is similar on most of the continent, where men and women over 60 are in power or running for high office. They are surrounded by other senior citizens in the structures of their parties and government.
For many years, some in the ANC have spoken of a generational gap, but the ANC top six is loaded mostly with people older than 60. Secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe is 61. His deputy, Jessie Duarte, is 63. Deputy chairperson Thandi Modise is the youngest, at 57.
Even more concerning is that the youth league is led by a 36-year-old. Seemingly, there are no young people raising their hands for leadership positions.
Is this not the reason why there seems to be such a huge gulf between the youth and political leaders?
Where are the young people in the ANC?