Twelve days to the May 21 Tripartite Elections, youths are engaging all seven presidential aspirants to endorse the Youth Manifesto to guide whoever will emerge president.
The National Youth Manifesto is a 14-point strategic plan crafted by Youth Decide, a four-member civil society advocacy organisation, in which the youth are making demands on pro-youth development plans to be prioritised by whoever becomes president after the forthcoming poll.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is the UTM Party torch-bearer, was the first presidential candidate to endorse and append his signature to the manifesto yesterday in Lilongwe.
During the meeting, Youth Decide team leader Charles Kajoloweka said Malawi youths are facing many challenges, ranging from unemployment to lack of economic empowerment.
He said: “If you listen to young people in the country, you will find that they are angry and frustrated. Young people are not benefitting from the sweat of their farm produce.They do not have access to higher education because of the quota system. We want things to change.”
He stressed that the Youth Manifesto demands that the next president stops corruption, adding the youth are demanding that 10 percent of contracts be given to deserving skilled youth.
Chilima listened attentively and took down notes during Kajoloweka’s remarks.
Before signing the document, the UTM Party president said the youth and UTM Party manifestos have various issues in common.
He said: “People have been asking what I will do for the youth. But I have also asked what it is that the youth want. I subscribe to what the Youth Manifesto is saying. So, I don’t have any choice but to endorse it.”
Responding to some specific issues, the Vice-President assured Kajoloweka that he will ensure that youths will benefit from a K40 billion revolving fund that he intends to establish as well as the one million jobs he wants to create if he becomes the next president.
According to Kajoloweka, the Youth Manifesto will also be a yardstick for measuring performance of the next government on the promises made on youths.
Today, United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, who is also Minister of Health, will be the second leader to make the endorsement in Mzuzu.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera will next Tuesday make his endorsement in Lilongwe.
Kajoloweka said they are meeting the presidential candidates in order of response to the organisation’s open invitation that was extended to all soon after the manifesto launch in Lilongwe on April 10. He added that some candidates are yet to respond to the Youth Decide request for their endorsements. n