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How Parliament has turned into the biggest killer of dreams of our youth

By Clay Muganda | September 5th 2021

One of the most used and often misused word by politicians is youth. More often than not, it is not just the word that is misused but the people falling under that category.

It has become normal for politicians to invoke the word in their speeches and manifestoes and promise the youth the whole world so they can achieve their goal.

Sadly, that goal just involves robbing the youth blind. Apart from stealing from the youth, almost literally, politicians also deny them opportunities by passing bad laws that hinder their growth or rejecting proposals for good laws that would ameliorate their living standards.

And this week, it emerged that Members of the National Assembly had done the latter by shooting down amendments that would have made it easier for graduates to repay university loans.

The proposed amendments to the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Act would have seen the interest rate lowered and repayment grace period increased by four years to five after graduation.

The rejection of the amendments means that employed or not, graduates will have to start repaying the loans after a year or face a monthly penalty of Sh5,000.

The Education Committee — whose chair and the co-chair is a relatively young woman and man, respectively — which rejected the proposals, gave it reasons, which in the informed opinion of the members are good, but the bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of young graduates will be affected.

In an ideal situation, the politicians would have thought about the future, but it is sad that the people on whose young and weak backs they walked, the people who were their plank on the way to an elective office, have become their victims.

Some younger Kenyans might think this is a new strategy that started with the current discombobulated regime of two men who shouted themselves hoarse about being the most youthful leadership in Kenya’s modern political history. Well, it did not start with them. Trampling upon the youth is as old as Kenya but these two chaps made it worse through poorly thought out policies and aiding and abetting rampant corruption at all levels of governance.

Kenyan politicians never talk about improving the living or economic conditions of senior citizens. All they talk about uplifting the youth but do the opposite.

When they are on the campaign trail, they vow that the biggest beneficiaries of government programmes will be the youth. However, after the elections, they suffer from amnesia, and forget about their promises and the people they made the promises to too.

Come the next election cycle, they complain how the youth have been neglected and that their most important goal is seeing them prosper for a better nation.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the so-called youth swallow the bait, then, like a herd of confused animals, fall in line and elect the leeches again.

Days after the diabolical liars are sworn-in, they start stealing from public coffers, cutting underhand deals and grabbing public resources while the youth who voted them in, continue with their humdrum life: asking for handouts and favours.

It can be argued that the youth are own worst enemies, for, they only see the here and now when politicians throw a few coins their way, and refuse to see through the lies.

They believe the rhetoric without asking how the promises will trickle down to them or where the funds for all the lofty programmes will come from.

In a way, the youth are responsible for the mess — but we will opt to blame the society, while deliberately forgetting that the society are not aliens from outer space.

It is academic, and of course chic to conclude that the society creates this unjust environment that blinds the youth with suffering that they cannot detect the lies; that it is the society that makes them vulnerable and desperate that they accept handouts and get satisfied. But is it really the truth?

That the whole system is messed up cannot be denied but there has to be an end to it for, amendment of the HELB Act is just one of the many good laws that would have helped the younger generation grow, but were rejected.

Unfortunately, some of the elected representatives who participate in the killing of dreams the youth, are people who were in that age group when they were elected.

They shouted that they are young, and understand the problems of their peers. Thus, when they get elected, they will pass laws that improve the livelihood of the youth. But once there, they joined their elderly counterparts in their thieving ways that hinder the progress of the younger population. The youth will have to stop them.

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