KIREHE-RWANDA: In a crowded town of Nyakarambi on the highway to Rusumo-Tanzania border, young people were discussing daily routine as Democratic Green Party of Rwanda distributes leaflets of a political party which will run in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
DGPR emphasizes on eradicating poverty, land taxes, creating jobs for the youth, striving for reduction of unemployment, establishing a national security council and ensuring a better civil-military relations model, promoting economic growth without environmental degradation and championing the respect of all fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the constitution.
“If they want our votes, they have to treat us seriously and not only claim our attention just before elections,” said Emile Kaneza sipping his tea with a group of friends in their twenties.
Kaneza, a university freshman, insisted that he is “not particularly interested in politics,” but would be keen to participate more in political discussions in his community as he will vote for the first time in the upcoming elections.
He says the DGPR manifesto sounds good but this may not determine their output once they secure seats in parliament because most of parliamentarians keep quiet whenever they get to parliament.
The voter eligibility age was recently set at 18 in Rwanda.
Rwanda is heading for snap legislative elections on September 2-4 when a million new young voters will decide the faith of their parliamentary democracy.
Yvonne Ishimwe Assistant Communication and advisor of Youth Committee In Social Democratic Party , as a young Rwandan, believes to make a difference on the kind of issues that matter to all youths.
“My aim is to be the voice of young people in PSD that I represent as well as all Rwandan youths,” she said.
She added that in PSD manifesto, she believes that young people have different talents and skills; a significant wealth to the country.
She would form cooperatives and put their skills together, they can be able to create new jobs and reduce the level of unemployment for themselves and for many other. Cooperatives will also be good platforms for their barriers to be known and solved easily.
Berwa Giselle 23, student at University youth candidate from Ruhango district said that she was the minister in charge of gender at university, she would champion justice, economy, leadership, governance among the youth adding that she would connect youth in a country and diaspora .
She however, wish to see the up coming parliament giving youths four seats instead of two where, each province can have one youth representative.
About 46 percent of Rwanda’s overall voters is young people, and the country’s political future depends on reality of the young voters’ preferences, According to National Electoral Commission.
“Rwanda’s most important power is its young and qualified population,” said Wellars Gasamagera, the Spokesperson of RPF.
“We consider the youth as leaders of tomorrow and we empower them for that. The two seats in parliament do not mean they can’t stand also in other capacities.”
He added that they also compete on the general list, on women’s and disabled lists as well. We in RPF have already provided for 10 youth seats in the National Executive Committee (leading arm of the party). This shows how serious we take the youth stake.
The political parties and independent candidates are particularly active in cities and are campaigning intensively since August 13. Social media is one of their major tools, as rally, meeting and conference information is shared instantly on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp groups and Instagram.
Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) has presented 32 candidates among them are aged between 18 and 30. One of them is Jessica Mutesi who stands a potential chance of getting elected in one of Northern constituencies.
The young candidate who completed high school, explained that she is genuinely interested in politics and that she was head girl for four years at school, before getting noticed by the top brass of the party. She is currently doing business.
“There is lack of confidence from the society towards young people. The future of the country is being determined by aged parliamentarians, with a high average age like that they cannot grasp our situation,” Emile said.
“We want to prove them that we are serious,” Emile said, emphasizing that the youth must be brought to the forefront.
Over 7 million are expected to cast their votes in the forth coming parliamentary elections, according to NEC.
By Mohammed M.Mupenda