The Line between political participation and partisan politics – Prosper Mubangizi

The Line Between Political Participation And Partisan Politics: Lessons From The Launch Of The Platform For Youth Inclusion In Politics(Pyip).

On Thursday 23rd July 2020, Civil Society and pro democracy actors in Uganda launched a Special Purpose Vehicle to galvanise youth efforts and voices for good governance, inclusive and participatory governance. The Special Purpose Vehicle is known as the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP).

In deed the launch of this Special Purpose Vehicle has been warmly embraced by several civil society actors both with in and outside Uganda. There is a growing realization that Africa can not achieve the African Union Agenda 2063, East African Community Vision 2050 or the Uganda Vision 2040 unless its young people are empowered enough to participate in streamlining the governance of the country.

In view of such a prospect, the role of Civil Society can not be ignored. The former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon once asserted that ‘Civil Society is the Oxygen of Democracy’. Civil Society entities like the media are usually referred to as the ‘Fourth Estate’ because of the crucial role they play in holding the state to account. This is the spirit behind the formation and subsequent launch of the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP). Its membership includes over 100 youth serving organizations through out Uganda, youth in political parties under the Inter Party Youth Platform (IYOP), Youth in media and Ugandan students. The Platform comes to strengthen Uganda’s electoral democracy by encouraging youth people to stand out and be counted; to stand and be voted into office and to also fulfil their civic responsibility of casting their votes and choosing their leaders.  

However, it is good practice that Civil Society though it is by default political, it must strive to avoid taking sides and becoming partisan. This is because civil society can not achieve its purpose if it becomes partisan as such a stance would create a distinction of “us against them”. In attempting to maintain its non partisan stance, the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) undertook the following efforts; 1) Integrated the youth in political parties under the Inter Party Youth Platform as core members of the Platform’s technical working group and 2) built on the efforts of the Youth Coalition on Electoral Democracy (YCED) of fostering and issue based political agenda. As such, PYIP through the Youth Coalition on  Electoral Democracy (YCED) is facilitating the drafting of the 3rd National Youth Manifesto which will inform all advocacy efforts of the youth in Uganda through the period 2021 to 2026.

It should be noted that an issue based political agenda, through efforts like the National Youth Manifesto, the Citizens’ Manifesto, the Women’s Manifesto among others which are Civil Society led efforts, go a long way in encouraging a wide part of the citizenry to participate actively in the country’s political space while avoiding escalating the divisive partisan politics. This is because the participation is driven by issues and demands not partisan sentiments and personality cults. Hence, the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) will buttress existing efforts to have more young Ugandans actively participating in the Country’s political spaces while avoiding the partisan trap.

In conclusion, the broad based composition of the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) is indicative of the diversity in Uganda, the existence of intra youth dynamics which must be taken into consideration if participatory and inclusive governance is to be achieved. More so, the African Union target of “Silencing the Guns” can not be realization unless the Young people feel that   they are part of their nation’s political structures. It is time to harness the potential of our young people without immersing them into divisive partisan politics. It is also time to build the future and present of Uganda on the shoulders, sweat and dreams of our youth.

The Writer is a Policy Analyst with Parliament Watch/ CEPA. He is also a Youth Inclusion and Governance Consultant.