Did you know that people aged between 20 and 44 make up 57% of the world’s population but only 26% of the world’s MPs? Why are there so few people in this age bracket in positions of power? Is it the lack of civic education? Age bias? Or is it simply that young people are not ready for this kind of responsibility?

Whatever your stance on the above questions, we decided to highlight some young African leaders who may be too young to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, but are definitely not too young to make a change in society and take up positions of power.

Hlomela Bucwa, (25), South African MP for the Democratic Alliance

Image from Youtube

Although she may seem like a gentle lamb on the surface, Hlomela Bucwa showed no mercy in her maiden speech at the 2017 State of the Nation Address. A Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University alumni, she made it clear to the ever aging benches of the National Assembly that the social struggles plaguing South African youth, will be fixed by the youth.

“It is my generation that will successfully eradicate the social-ills that still prevail because we refuse to be divided by race, gender and religion, but instead we will be unified because we understand we are all fellow human beings. It is this generation that will become the beacon of hope to the young developing world because you as adults have failed to provide that for us,” she uttered before receiving a standing ovation.

She became actively involved in politics in 2011 as an activist for the Democratic Alliance Student Association (DASO) and this had led to her passion to see a better South Africa. In 2014 she served in the SRC and was eventually elected as its president.

Currently she sits on the Portfolio Committee of Higher Education and Training.

Joana Mamombe (25), Zimbabwean MP for the MDC-Alliance

Image from Twitter

Zimbabwe’s July 2018 general elections will go down as one of the most controversial elections in their history. Even though the country had finally broken away from Robert Mugabe’s 30 year presidency, the legitimacy of the election results still had to be confirmed in their Constitutional Court. Despite this dark cloud, there seems to be a bit of light since the swearing in of their youngest ever Member of Parliament.

Born in 1993, Joana Mamombe is not just a gender and human rights activist, she is also a trained molecular biologist. Her research interest lies in cancer therapies and Parkinson’s disease. In 2016 she was awarded a scholarship from the Norwegian government called the Student At Risk Award. This is awarded to students who face persecution in their respective countries.

She became active in public and political affairs at the Chinhoyi University of Technology; becoming the first female secretary-general at the university.  She later served as National Gender Secretary for Zimbabwe’s National Student Union.

She believes that young people today have faced the repercussions of high unemployment and the collapsed economy more than any other generation.

Bogolo Kenewendo (31), Botswana Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry 

Image by Flourish Africa

Known as Africa’s most stable country politically and economically, Botswana now boasts with their youngest ever minister.

Bogolo Kenewendo is a trained economist, media commentator and policy analyst. She holds an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex and a BA in Economics from the University of Botswana.

She was nominated to Parliament by former president Ian Khama in 2016 and later appointed as Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry by new president Mokgweetsi Masisi.

In case you think she popped out of nowhere, Minister Kenewendo started a women’s leadership and mentorship programme called Molaya Kgosi. She was also one of the country’s first Youth Representatives to the UN General Assembly where she delivered a speech on global youth.

Minister Kenewendo is actively trying to maximise job opportunities in both the public and private sectors; constantly meeting with stakeholders in Botswana and abroad.

On 4 October MVC and YouthLab will be discussing the lack of young people in positions of power in an event called the SA Youth Manifesto at The Wits Club, Johannesburg. Politicians from various parties will be in conversation with youth on just why it is that our political players are older than a large part of the population and how we can change this. Join us if you can and be part of the discussion. Dinner will be served. 

My Vote Counts NPC is a non-profit company founded to improve the accountability, transparency and inclusiveness of elections and politics in the Republic of South Africa. We work to ensure that the political and electoral systems are open, fair and accountable to the public and that they remain relevant in the changing South African socio-political context.