Home » Governance » Will the Youthful MPs Please Stand Up [column]

Mr Speaker, Sir

“JUST what is wrong with our young parliamentarians? They are busy making headlines for the wrong reasons when the youths expect better representation.

“If they are not in the news for allegedly raping minors, they are said to be going berserk and testing their firearms shooting in pubs sending patrons scampering for cover,” said a church-mate commenting on recent reports that some young MPs had been arrested for various offences.

He was not finished: “They went to Parliament to make sure youths have a voice but they are not raising issues affecting this constituency like unemployment.”

In the run-up to the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections and those of 2008, the main political parties deliberately included a number of youths in their ranks as parliamentary candidates.

This was done to spruce up not only their rank and file nor to create fiefdoms but to give young people a voice in national politics.

In this regard, quite a number of youths made it into the legislature among them Annastancia Ndlovu, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Solomon Madzore, Kudzanai Chipanga, Felix Mhona, Dexter Nduna, Melody Dziva, Thamsanqa Mahlangu and Costa Machingauta.

But are young MPs their own persons and do they have a vision?

Are they key drivers of change from old ways of doing things or they have joined the bandwagon of tired politics?

Granted, there are some young legislators who have made a mark but too many of them are still to find their footing as they are still to make their maiden speeches, almost nine months into the life of this Parliament.

Wadyajena has done fairly well chairing the portfolio committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment on his debut appearance in the august House.

His committee made up of mostly youthful MPs has made some incisive enquiries into the skewed manner in which young people benefited from the fund.

But the question is where are the other youths to bring significant change in discourse during debates?

Do these youth MPs bring anything exceptional in our politics?

If truth be told without fear or favour, our youth MPs need to up their game because most of them have not shown that they are cut from a different cloth.

Let’s face it there are some seasoned parliamentarians who failed to attain better education because they were fighting in the liberation struggle and did not then improve themselves academically after 1980.

As such, those legislators can be forgiven when they make streetwise debates but such grace can never be extended to born-frees who had all the time to go to school given Government’s education policies since independence.

One would have expected our young MPs to revolutionise the way debate is conducted in Parliament given that some of them attained reasonable education qualifications.

We would have expected them to be vociferous, well-intentioned, clear in analysis and show remarkable qualities in the way they conduct themselves in and outside Parliament, but are we getting this?

Have these young MPs managed to articulate young people’s issues in Parliament?

Have they brought life to the august House or are they already tired, barely nine months into the first session of the Eighth Parliament?

It is unfortunate that most of the young MPs are expending energy on the wrong things.

They heckle, shout and make unnecessary interjections and falling in the folly of polarisation that has defined our politics since the turn of the millennium.

Instead of making well-researched and informed contributions in Parliament, they are busy shooting from the hip, abusing parliamentary privileges to target their factional opponents or those from the other side.

Granted, some of our young MPs have sent shockwaves, mentioning the “untouchables” as having been complicit in corruption but as long as those contributions are influenced by factional and political emotions then we are not going anywhere.

Most young MPs are not happy with the way corruption cases have been handled since the cat got out of the bag because it appears impunity of corrupt officials continues unabated.

But should one see a hyena behind every bush even if there is nothing amiss?

There are also some young MPs who are going all out to be seen to be making contributions in Parliament in the hope of being appointed ministers.

Let’s face it, it’s not about being outspoken but what comes from the mouth that counts.

Some young MPs command respect in both the ruling party and opposition because they are prolific on the floor and they do not just stand up to waffle but to make well-informed contributions.

As such, almost every MP gives them an ear when they are on the floor because they know something of substance will be said.

Madzore acknowledges that there are some young MPs who have done well while others are still learning the ropes.

“I have not witnessed a rise in motions that affect young people but there are good young debaters like Settlement Chikwinya, Annastancia Ndhlovu, Nelson Chamisa and Temba Mliswa though he is not very young,” he said.

“These are prolific debaters but to be honest, I find most young MPs are more on the silent side because they are observing how debate is done. But let’s be honest, it would be too early to say whether the debate has been enriched.

“I find the committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment where I am a member to be more valuable because that is where we tackle issues of youth development.

“But it is also important to note that, yes we may be young MPs but we did not go there to represent the youths only because some of us were elected by the elderly and the youths so we are there to represent all their interests,” he said.

It is clear that a few of our young MPs have fallen for the folly of just wanting to go to parliament for their ego and once they are there are more interested in what they get out of politics.

As a result, some people will ask whether our young MPs are closing their eyes to their constituents or just do not have the capacity.

Some may argue that it is because of the whipping system but how come other young MPs are still able to debate?

Source : The Herald