EAST AFRICAN LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

The EALA Speaker Rt. Hon Daniel Fred Kidega is calling for the full participation of the youth in all spheres of society including in Parliament and other decision making bodies. The Speaker further wants a paradigm shift in the rejuvenation of democracy to one that is driven by a change agenda that is youth friendly.

Rt Hon Kidega was speaking while addressing the 134th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly which commenced here in Lusaka on March 20th, 2016. The IPU Assembly which is attended by over 600 Parliamentarians and close to 75 Speakers from the globe is themed: “Rejuvenating Democracy: Giving Voice to the Youth”.

The EALA Speaker remarked that the waning interest in formal politics by the youth was resultant from a number of factors citing dissatisfaction with politicians together with lack of trust in initiatives by Governments as strong barriers to the participation of the young persons.

The Speaker informed the IPU Assembly that Parliaments needed to take on a new advocacy role towards ensuring democracy is realised as a basic minimum.

“Parliaments and political parties should ensure democracy thrives right from the very basic levels of administration. If democracy is rejuvenated, young people are more likely to fortify their full participation and to contribute to development.’ Speaker Kidega said.

“The idea to create slots for youth in Parliaments is also very welcome. Youth make up about 60% of the world’s population but unfortunately, disparity in representation in Parliaments is extremely undesirable”, he added.

Rt Hon Kidega further urged youth to be fully involved in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) saying they were best placed to contribute to the delivery of the new generation ideas.

EALA’s delegation to the IPU consists of Hon Makongoro Nyerere, Clerk to the Assembly, Kenneth Madete and senior staff.

Zambia’s Head of State, H.E. President Edgar Lungu opened the 134th IPU Assembly. In his address, the President challenged youths to contest for positions at the forthcoming general elections in Zambia on August 11, 2016 and subsequently, to actively participate in decision-making processes and other programmes of development.

“I am urging youths to aspire for Parliamentary and local Government elections. Therefore, in implementing the National Youth Policy with our partners, we want to promote the inclusion and active participation of youths in decision-making processes, policy development, programming and project implementation, as outlined in the policy,” he said.

President Lungu also reaffirmed the need to invest in youths as it was a worthwhile endeavour because of their potential to contribute to the country’s development.

He said the Government had established the National Youth Development Council which was a principal advisor to Government on youth matters.

At the IPU, a new report dubbed “Youth participation in national Parliaments 2016”, states that youth continue to be chronically under-represented in the world’s Parliaments at a time when the global youth population is the largest it has ever been in history.

According to the report, only 1.9 per cent of the world’s 45,000 Parliamentarians are aged below 30, a fact it deems undesirable.

Meanwhile, the IPU has welcomed back Comoros, Egypt and Guyana as Members of the Organization. Their admission has increased the IPU membership to 170, marking a significant step forward in the Organization’s goal to achieve universal membership according to the President of the IPU, Hon Saber Chowdhury.

Parliamentary elections in Egypt at the end of 2015 had paved the way for the country to rejoin IPU. The 2011 revolution, which led to the dissolution of Parliament the following year, had left Egypt’s membership in abeyance. Egypt, which had first joined IPU in 1924, had been one of IPU’s oldest continuous Members.

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Arusha, Tanzania