ACCORDING to the Kofi Annan Foundation, more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30 with 57 per cent of the voting population being young people.
Despite that high number of young people, only six per cent of the parliamentarians are aged below 35 years globally.
Young people have the energy, creativity and idealism to deliver, sometimes, even where elderly people fail.
While young people have every opportunity and right to participate fully in the lives of their societies, they usually seem ill-prepared for the challenge to take up positions at various levels of leadership.
We, therefore, agree with United Party for National Development (UPND) Choma Central Member of Parliament (MP) Cornelius Mweetwa that the call for senior politicians in the country to pave way for their young counterparts is highly misplaced and does not hold water.
Mr Mweetwa said this on Sunday when he announced that he will not re-contest his parliamentary seat in the August 12, 2021 general elections having served for two terms.
We similarly share Mr Mweetwa ‘s expectation that instead of calling for affirmative action where older politicians are forced to leave the political arena, the young people should ‘wrestle’ power from older ones.
Of course this wrestling does not mean physically fighting but working hard for political positions and not to wait for someone to pave way for them.
Older politicians should leave the political arena satisfied and sure that the younger ones are better candidates.
Complaining alone, as the nation has witnessed in the recent past, is not a solution, but the youth should work hard to prepare themselves for any positions.
But they should do so in humility!
President Edgar Lungu has many times expressed disappointment over the failure by some youths to deliver whenever they have been tried on some influential positions before.
It is high time that the youth arose and showed what they are made of in terms of innovation, hard-work and reliability right at their current station of life.
It is, therefore, interesting to observe the high turnout of youth who have expressed interest to participate, not as mere voters but as candidates, in this year’s general election.
That is quite encouraging!
However, the youth should realise that opportunities are everywhere not just in politics because not everyone is called to be a politician, let alone a political leader.
Further, we again agree with Mr Mweetwa on the point that while promoting the idea of more young people takinng up decision-making positions Zambia still needs seasoned leader to pass on the knowledge and wisdom to the younger generation.
Ridding any governance system of the old people would be going against the African traditional wisdom.
An African folktale is told in which two societies conspired to exterminate all of their respective senior citizens and one of them followed the agreement painstakingly while the other chose to hide its oldest members.
A few years down the lane, a calamity befell the two societies which required the wisdom of the senior citizens.
The leaders of the first society which had killed all the old folks got stuck while the leaders of the other society ran to the caves where they had hidden their parents, who quickly provided the solution to the calamity.
Indeed, Zambia should always endeavour to blend leaders – the young and the old ones!