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Why Africa needs to lower its voting age to 16

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Nzi, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Nzi

    Nzi JF-Expert Member

    Feb 20, 2012
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    Read this article written by the world renowned professor, Calestous Juma.

    With the youngest and fastest growing population in the world, Africa should move to convert the 'youth bulge' from a threat into a development opportunity.

    In apparent concern following democratic uprisings in north Africa, the African Union has decided to hold its next summit in June 2011 on the theme of "accelerating youth empowerment for sustainable development".

    One of the most pressing issues in African politics is to realign the continent's voting systems with its age structure. One way to do this is to lower the voting age to 16 so as to expand opportunities for more young people help shape their own future. Africa has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world. Over 40% of the population are under the age of 15. More than 20% are between the ages of 15 and 24. Three out of five of Africa's employed are young people, according to the International Labour Office. Young people account for 36% of the overall working age population.

    There are two key steps Africa can take now that can help to convert the "youth bulge" from a threat into a development opportunity. The first is political inclusion, by lowering the voting age, and the second is expanding opportunities for technical training and associated job creation.

    Most African countries have set the minimum voting age at 18. The decision to do so is based more on tradition and less on careful observation of social, economic and political realities. Demographic shifts, education, greater access to new technologies, access to information and political awareness have significantly improved decision-making among Africa's youth. The minimum voting age is 21 in Central African Republic and Gabon, and 20 in Cameroon. But people between the ages of 12 and 18 work, participate in political discussion through social media, and make household decisions. Yet they cannot vote. In Kenya, for example, which has a population of 38 million, about 4 million people are aged between 12 and 18, most of whom are socially, economically and politically active.

    Lowering the voting age 16 for all African countries would not only reflect the demographic structure of the continent, but it would also expand political participation. Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua have lowered the voting age to 16. In Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia, 16-year-olds can vote if they are employed. The voting age in Indonesia, North Korea, Timor-Leste and the Seychelles is 17.

    Lowering the voting age continues to be the subject of heated debate in many countries. One of the main arguments put forward against it is that people at the age of 16 cannot be relied upon to make informed decisions. These arguments are usually made by older people who ignore the many decisions that young people already make.

    People at 16 have much more at stake in regard to the future than many of those holding power today. Yet there is no maximum voting age, except in the Vatican where 80 is the upper limit for voting for a new pope.

    In some countries politicians have resisted the move by seeking the redefine the term "youth". A few years ago a Kenyan politician, Muhammad Kuti, proposed that the legal definition of "youth" should be changed to include people under the age of 50.

    It is true that lowering the voting age will not necessarily increase political participation by young people. It will need to be accompanied by formal and informal political education. However, political education on the role of young people is even more urgent for older leaders whose worldviews were shaped by more traditional societies. Many of them do not realise the extent to which modern technologies and education have shifted power from centralised authorities to peer networks.

    The AU summit will be hosted by its new chairperson, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, who has been in power since 1979 and has been heavily criticised for human rights violations. His effort to create a UN science prize in his name was recently revoked after opposition from human rights groups. Obiang's one-year stint gives him an opportunity to lead a genuine effort to "empower" Africa's youth by getting countries to lower the voting age to 16. Without such decisive and immediate steps, the summit will appear to young people as yet another forum that is strong on promise and weak on delivery.

    My take:

    There is an urgent need to have a national debate on this (the ongoing constitutional agenda gives this debate a ready-made platform) . With the current political situation in Tanzania (in the context of voting and the like during elections), it is apparent that age is a significant factor that influences election results (let's assume the NEC factor to be constant).

    We have to lower (the voting age) and put a ceiling to the voting age.

    Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/feb/09/africa-youth-lower-voting-age-16?CMP=twt_gu
  2. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    Feb 20, 2012
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    huu mjadala ni muhimu kweli
    funny nilikuwa nafikiri 21 ndio better..................
  3. Radhia Sweety

    Radhia Sweety JF-Expert Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    In my view, I suggest animals too be entitled to vote and allowed to contend for various political positions. The fact that we have been isolating animals and deprive them of the right to participate to choose the government has brought us where we are in terms of economic existence. Take an instance of a lion and imagine of its physical strength being translated into practical performance through a range of office works. More precisely, have you ever contemplated how efficiency may dramatically surge by committing Ministry of Internal Affairs to, say, an elephant and those stints of Magufuli to the crocodile? I reckon it's time we changed the way we think and find another ways of helping this country make a step forward! It's high time we seek support from animals because they have great potential to offer.
  4. Nzi

    Nzi JF-Expert Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Mkuu 21 mbali sana. Kijana aliemaliza kidato cha nne (ambao wengi wana miaka 16 hadi 17) anafaa kabisa kupiga kura. Kwani anakua ameiva na ana elewa maana ya kupiga kura. Pia ni umri ambao ni muhimu sana katika kuleta mabadiliko Afrika.
  5. Mwali

    Mwali JF-Expert Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    How smart of you to compare the African 16-18 situation with animals... great thinker at work. lol