Youth at the periphery of politics

12 August 2020 | Opinion

With this year's regional and local authority elections a mere two months away, young people are again being elbowed to the edge.

In political parties, strategies are being worked out to ensure that 'elders' continue to be at the forefront of nominations and that the youth remain backroom cheerleaders.

Having realised that space for their own ambitions doesn't exist in political parties, many young people saw an opportunity to pursue the independent candidature route.

This route does not require them to have been members of political formations for a decade, or that they be members 'in good standing'.

Being a member in good standing means their annual and membership payments, even to the unemployed, must be up to date.

This is an elitist approach, as it requires people to be at a certain financial level in order to contest on a party ticket.

In a country where youth unemployment is just below 50%, it automatically means many young people, even if they wanted to, cannot be members in good standing in a political party.

This structural impediment is, whether by default or design, proving to be the most potent weapon against youth participation in mainstream politics.

Youth empowerment has long been a cliché to cheer on gullible young people who in real life have nothing to show for all their sloganeering and puppetry.

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