Youths from selected political parties from Zambia and Malawi have bemoaned the lack of political will from both government and opposition leaders in the two countries in addressing climate change related issues.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing leadership training workshop for youths from the two countries taking place in Siavonga, Zambia’s Prince Ndoyi and Yongo Wa Yongo of Malawi said they have seen the effects of climate change first hand at Kariba Dam and that it’s high time that political parties put climate change issues high on their agenda.
Yongo who is a National Executive Committee member for Malawi Congress Party MCP observed that political parties have not fully addressed issues of climate change and environmental Sustainability in their manifestos as they find it difficult to craft a message for a citizenry that doesn’t understand the topic.
“As you have rightly put it climate change is not fully being addressed like it should be by politicians because among the main reasons lack of understanding by citizens. Citizens don’t understand what climate change is all about so it becomes difficult for politicians to focus on that message but then on the surface political parties talk about climate change in their manifestos,” he said.
He said as young politicians it is their prerogative to take back the message to their mother parties and ensure that political party manifestos elaborate clear strategies of how they will address the issue of climate change.
“It is important that we came here with our colleagues from Zambian political parties and we have been grilled in so many topical issues but what has struck me most is the issue of climate change. I have come to realize that it’s important that as young people we need to start having conversations about climate change.
“It is now our priority as young politicians to go back to our mother parties and try to influence the messaging for coming elections. Our Zambian counterparts they have an election in 2021 and as for us we are heading for a re-run maybe in the January 2020 so as young leaders to be in the for front championing real causes that are affecting our societies,” he said.
He added that climate change is not a myth as he had seen it first hand at the Kariba Dam where the water levels have drastically gone down thereby affecting hydro power generation at the dam.
“Climate change is not a myth. Climate change is here, we have experience it, we have been here in Siavonga and we have seen the effects with our own eyes. I have got to learn about the lake Kariba and about the water levels and how it has affected the hydro power generation and this hydro power from lake Kariba contributes 40% of our energy in Malawi so we really have to look at ways of how to control this climate change and take the environment back to where it’s supposed to be,” he said.
And Ndoyi from MMD called on all stakeholders to find common ground and ensure that preventive measures and solutions to the challenge of climate change are found.
He expressed shock that despite Siavonga being one of the hottest places in the country, surprisingly residents and business houses in Siavonga continue to depend on ZESCO for energy a sign that the country is not taking advantage of the most important resource as regards energy diversification.
“We are gathered here in Siavonga just seconds from the Kariba Dam and i think that the initiative of us young politicians from both Malawi and Zambia was obviously for us to take advantage and see the effects of climate change and by virtue of what we have seen I think that as young politicians in different political parties we have come to a common ground that there is indeed lack of political will from both governments in terms of seriously mitigating the effects of climate change and investing heavily in preventing the consequencies that we are seeing.
“I think that Malawi and Zambia share in the energy crisis that is obtaining in both countries and by virtue of being here we are able to see that the main component in the advocacy to Go-Green is only vested in our politicians that are in government. It’s suffice to state that we are in Siavonga where temperatures are so high but at the hotel where we are there is no solar panels on any rooftop. It goes to say that we need consented efforts, we all need a common a ground in finding solutions in mitigating the effects of climate change, we can’t continue with business as usual,” he said.
The young leaders have been selected from political parties with representation in Parliament in both countries by the “Program For Young Politicians In Africa (PYPA)” with the objective of increasing the influence of youths and women in the politics of the two countries.
The topics covered among many other topics includes environmental sustainable development, a concept of ensuring that the country balances it’s development agenda without destroying the Eco-system.