Dodoma. Stakeholders working around youth affairs gathered here on Monday to discuss ways through which youth representation in public leadership and politics can be improved in Tanzania, laying out several recommendations that would deliver such progress.
Stakeholders gathered under the auspices of Ajenda ya Vijana, a consortium of eight youth-serving civil society organisations and Ushiriki Tanzania, a coalition of 22 organisations working to ensure youth participation in the country’s leadership.
The parliamentary youth caucus of the National Assembly, led by Deputy Energy Minister Judith Kapinga, was represented at the gathering, which attracted about 60 youth caucus members of the National Assembly, according to organisers.
According to the 2022 Population and Housing Census, nearly 70 per cent of Tanzanians are below the age of 35, with the average age of a Tanzanian being 17.
Despite this being the case, stakeholders have complained of unsatisfactory youth representation in the country’s leadership, something which leaves many of the challenges facing them unaddressed.
The stakeholders who gathered in Dodoma, with the support from USAID through the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Swedish Christian Democratic International Centre (KIC), proposed several recommendations to address the challenge.
These include improving representation and participation through a 30 per cent quota in political leadership positions.
They want 30 per cent of the government subsidy that political parties receive to be allocated to youth-centred empowerment initiatives.
They want political parties to increase candidate nominations for youth by at least 50 per cent and elected national parliamentary youth seats.
The youth organisations also want the age at which a person can stand for a leadership position to be lowered from 21 to 18, arguing that if someone can vote, they can also lead.
In the National Election Act, youth seek easier access to voter education and registration and greater representation in the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
They recommend elected national parliamentary youth seats by zone, boosting dedicated representation of youth issues.
Speaking during the event, the national coordinator of Ajenda ya Vijana, Ochek Msuva, said that it is high time Tanzania appreciates the role the youth can play in building the nation.
He urged authorities to take necessary measures to ensure fair youth representation in public leadership and politics.
“Throughout history, youth have played a significant role as a creative force and a dynamic source of innovation transforming the country,” Mr Msuva observed.
“However, they face multiple barriers, including institutional, social, cultural and capacity-related political constraints,” he noted.
Monday’s conference occurred in the context of the expected amendment bills into several key electoral laws that the government will table in the November parliament conference.
The step will be in line with President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s agenda of undertaking key electoral reforms as part of building reconciliation among key political players in the country, including opposition parties.
Samia’s reforms also aim at improving multiparty democracy that faced several challenges during the previous administration, which saw it banning political rallies by opposition parties, seriously hampering their growth and ability.
Jackline Kuwanda is a Dodoma-based The Chanzo correspondent. She’s available at Jackline@thechanzo.com.