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There Are Many Reasons Why Youth Should Participate in Elections As Voters And Candidates. Here Are Some of Them

Historically, young people have exhibited voter apathy and have preferred appointed positions over elected ones. This has to change.

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As Tanzania prepares for its upcoming election season, with local government elections scheduled for this year and general elections next year, it is crucial to not only encourage the youth to vote but also to inspire them to run for office. 

Historically, young people have exhibited voter apathy and have preferred appointed positions over elected ones. Addressing these trends by fostering greater youth engagement in the electoral process is essential for the nation’s democratic future. 

Their involvement in voting and running for office is crucial for several reasons, ranging from fostering inclusive governance to addressing contemporary issues with fresh perspectives.

According to the national census conducted by the government in 2022, there are 20,532,495 Tanzanians aged 15-34, comprising approximately one-third of Tanzania’s total population of 61,741,120. 

This demographic will be most affected by the National Development Vision 2050, which is currently being formulated. Therefore, it is essential for this group to actively participate in electing leaders who will oversee the plan’s implementation and to consider running for office themselves to directly influence its execution.

In 2020, there were 29.8 million registered voters in Tanzania, but only 14.8 million, or 49.8 per cent, actually cast their ballots. One significant reason for this disparity is that the national voter ID card serves as an official form of identification, prompting many to register simply to obtain the card. 

READ MORE: Why Is It Important for Young People to Participate in Local Government Elections?

Additionally, voter apathy plays a major role, as politics does not seem to inspire enough enthusiasm for people to vote. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage more young people, both in urban and rural areas, to participate in the electoral process. But this raises the question: why should young people vote and seek elected office?

Why vote?

Voting is a basic right of any Tanzanian aged 18 and without a criminal conviction based on sections 10(1), 10(2), and 11(1) of the National Elections Act of Tanzania.

Voting is a fundamental democratic right that empowers citizens to influence government decisions. For young Tanzanians, casting their vote is a direct way to voice their opinions and preferences, ensuring that their needs and concerns are represented in the government.

Our leaders serve as a mirror of our society, embodying our collective desires and ambitions as a nation. They represent us on every stage, whether we like it or not. Therefore, it is crucial to elect leaders who uphold our values and morals. A society of thieves will inevitably elect thieves, while a society with a sense of honor will choose men and women of integrity.

We cannot complain about the leaders we have if we do not participate in the fundamental act of electing them. No excuse should prevent us from exercising this right. As the saying goes, “Where good men are silent, evil prospers.” There is no more powerful voice of the people than the simple act of voting.

Young people are the future leaders of Tanzania. By voting, they have the power to influence policies that will affect their lives and the lives of future generations. Their participation ensures that the elected leaders prioritize issues important to the youth, such as education, employment, and technological advancement.

READ MORE: Women, Youth Should Partner to Address Common Challenges

We lament that the government does not prioritise our issues because we do not pose an electoral threat. Why should the government heed a demographic that only complains and takes no meaningful action? For the government to pay attention to our concerns, they must fear losing our votes.

Voting helps in holding leaders accountable. When young people actively participate in elections, they send a message to politicians that their performance is being closely monitored. This can lead to better governance, as elected officials will be more motivated to fulfill their promises and address the electorate’s concerns.

Elected officials, knowing that their re-election depends on the approval of the electorate, are incentivized to fulfill their promises and address the concerns of the people they represent. 

The fear of losing votes due to dissatisfaction with their performance can act as a catalyst for positive change. Politicians are more likely to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the electorate when they know that their actions are being closely monitored through the electoral process.

Moreover, the act of voting itself instills a sense of responsibility and engagement among young people. By actively participating in the democratic process, they become more aware of political issues, policies, and the importance of their role as citizens. 

READ MORE: President Kikwete: We Need To Find Serious Ways of Empowering Youth. TikTok Way Isn’t Enough

This increased awareness and participation contribute to a more informed and empowered electorate, further strengthening the democratic fabric of the nation.

Why run for office?

Young leaders are more likely to understand and advocate for issues that affect their peers. When young people run for office, they bring a unique perspective to the table, ensuring that policies are inclusive and address the specific needs of the youth.

To advance youth agendas, it is imperative to elevate more young individuals into decision-making roles, and the avenue to achieve this is through elections. While it may be tempting to attribute our issues to leaders from previous generations who may not have taken us seriously, the reality is that we inhabit a vastly different world from theirs, with priorities and challenges unique to our generation. 

This disconnect underscores the necessity of having young voices actively shaping policies and driving change through participation in the electoral process.

Young people often bring innovative solutions to longstanding problems. Their exposure to modern technologies and global trends can lead to the implementation of forward-thinking policies that drive development and progress.

This rings particularly true for millennials, who have witnessed the transformative impact of the internet revolution, and Generation Z, who are experiencing the ongoing digital revolution. 

READ MORE: A Decade of ACT-Wazalendo: A Journey Through Triumphs And Tribulations

Our generation possesses a deeper understanding of the trajectory of the world and its evolving landscape. To safeguard not only our own future but also that of the next generation of Tanzanians, it is imperative that we take proactive leadership roles, leading from the forefront rather than trailing behind.

When young individuals run for office and succeed, they serve as role models for their peers and younger generations. This can inspire more young people to engage in politics, creating a cycle of active participation and leadership that strengthens the democratic fabric of the nation.

We require exemplary role models occupying positions of influence to inspire more young individuals to embrace the mantle of leadership. Currently, many young people perceive that succeeding in a political candidacy necessitates a specific socio-economic pedigree, making it appear nearly unattainable for those without such advantages.

Overcoming barriers

Many young people may feel disconnected from the political process due to a lack of knowledge or interest. Initiatives aimed at educating the youth about the importance of their participation and how the political system works can bridge this gap. Civic education programs, workshops, and social media campaigns can play a significant role in this regard.

Running for office can be financially challenging. To encourage more young candidates, support systems should be in place, such as funding opportunities, mentorship programs, and networking platforms. Political parties and civil society organizations can collaborate to provide these resources.

Political apathy among young people is a common issue. Engaging youth through relatable and impactful campaigns that highlight how political decisions affect their daily lives can motivate them to participate. Emphasizing the tangible benefits of their involvement, such as improved job prospects and better living conditions, can drive home the importance of their vote and candidacy.

READ MORE: NDI President Ambassador Derek Mitchell: Solutions Lie in More Democracy, Not Less

Young people’s participation in Tanzania’s local government and general elections is not just a matter of democratic rights but a crucial step towards a progressive and inclusive society. 

By voting and running for office, young Tanzanians can ensure that their voices are heard, their issues are addressed, and their innovative ideas shape the country’s future. As Tanzania stands on the brink of these important elections, it is imperative to recognize and harness the potential of its youth to build a vibrant and dynamic democracy.
Thomas Joel Kibwana is an international relations and business development expert. He can be reached at or on X (Twitter) as @thomasjkibwana. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on Saturday April 20, 2024 at Makumbusho ya Taifa.

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