Pol­i­tics needs new blood

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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?

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