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Young people losing confidence in government due to rising joblessness

Lack of economic opportunities would lead young people to have little trust and confidence in the government. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya Bureau of Statistics data reveals that over four million trained youths are jobless. The revelation can only dispirit young people and make them to lose trust in the government for abdicating its mandate of creating a favourable environment for job creation.

Besides, millions of Kenyans above 35 years are either unemployed or engaged in low-paying informal jobs. Nearly 80 per cent of Kenyans are under the age of 35, and youths between 18 and 35 years constitute more than a third of the population. Assuming that the population of youths grows annually by about 400,000, it means that youth unemployment will soon get worse.

Youth unemployment in Kenya stands at 65 per cent. It is among the highest in the world. The situation is exacerbated by shrinking economy, endemic corruption, rapid population growth, failure to honour the Constitution, failure by the government to attract investors to create more jobs, pervasive income inequalities and structural adjustment programmes. 

The government seems abdicated its responsibilities by taking no notice of Article 55 of the Constitution (2010) which requires it to take measures, including affirmative action, to ensure that youths access relevant education and training, employment and opportunities to be represented and to participate in politics and economic activities.

There is no youth policy that clearly outlines a strategy on provision/creation of job opportunities and experiences to young people.

In addition, the young generation has been marginalised from formal political processes – they are only important as voters. Consequently, they have no say in the running of government and political parties.

Young people feel alienated. They feel the political system does not work for them. Little, if anything, is done by the government to build their confidence and trust in formal democratic electoral systems. Neither, Kenya National Youth Council (KNYC), Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) nor political parties have engaged the youths to build their confidence, and enlighten them on their democratic rights.

Political parties, IEBC and KNYC have a moral obligation to push for inclusion of youths in electoral processes and structures of political representation. In the absence of that, youths remain disillusioned and disenfranchised.

It was shocking to hear that during the mass voter registration, some youths were demanding hand outs so as register as voters. They were reluctant to register because they felt that their votes in next year's General Election would not count going by the previous experience.

It should be recalled that in the 2017 General Election, we had a total of 19.6 million registered voters, 50.7 per cent of them youths. Thais represented 9.9 million votes. This means that the young generation represents a large political constituency. Hence, their effective participation in politics is critical to development of our country's democracy.

Thus, lack of socio-political empowerment, and economic opportunities would lead young people to have little trust and confidence in the government and the country's political leadership.

-Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary committees on Education and Labour