Job Creation Spices Manifestos as Youth Push for Employment

Ayub Ssendagire, 21, a cobbler in Kamwokya--Kampala who will be voting for the first in the coming election says he wants a president who will provide employment opportunities for young people.
01 Jan 2021 15:10
First time voters: Buganda district among the top with substantial increase in number of regostered voters

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The National Resistance Movement (NRM) 2021-2026 manifesto mentions the youth 65, slightly above the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which mentions them 63 times and the National Unity Platform (NUP) manifesto which mentions youth 14 times.

First, presenting party candidate, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as a Pan-Africanist who dedicated his, “youthful years to Africa’s liberation struggles against oppressive regimes,” the NRM manifesto highlights what the government has done to facilitate the creation of jobs and aiding youth to access start-up capital.

It refers to the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), the Youth Venture Capital Fund, and empowering youth in the political arena. The manifesto’s key promise is rolling out a skilling programme for the youth that was piloted in Kampala and has so far benefited 14,448 youths.

"Having registered commendable success in Kampala, NRM is going to roll out the skilling project throughout the country through the establishment of the zonal industrial hubs,” the manifesto says. Each centre will have an intake capacity of between 200 and 300 with dormitories to accommodate those coming from afar. Those living nearby will be day scholars.

Moris Muhindo, the NRM Youth League Secretary-General says that the NRM campaign theme; “Securing Youth Future,” means that the party is working for the future of young people through the establishment of industrial parks which will create jobs and skilling youth who employ themselves and create jobs for their age mates.   

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Muhindo argues that the president has emphasized that this election is not about biology, it’s about ideology. “He has consistently said you can be young with bad ideas and you can also be old with good ideas,” he says. With this message, he forecasts that more than 70 per cent of young people will turn out and vote for Museveni.    

On the other hand, the NUP manifesto articulates NRM failures in addressing youth issues such as misuse of YLP funds and promises recovery of embezzled funds. Also cognizant that vocational training and skilling of youth is a key therapy of the unemployment question, the NUP manifesto says they “intend to review all ongoing educational interventions to ensure that the percentage of youths joining skills training increases.  

Meanwhile, the FDC in its manifesto makes charming pledges for the youth: one million youth and women will be given capital to start their own businesses, creating employment quotas for youth in all government and private sector jobs, reserving at least 40 per cent of public procurement contracts for youth-led businesses or businesses that employ the youth.  

FDC Youth League chairperson, Mulindwa Walid Lubega who crafted the party’s manifesto ideas for the youth says his team came up with four issues: unemployment, renewing the fight against HIV/AIDS, investment in sports and creating more governance opportunities for the youth.    

For instance, he says, the party plans to create a million jobs per year. But the manifesto doesn’t explain how these jobs will be created. With the four issues articulated in the manifesto, he says “youth are well catered for.”   

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That is how parties and their presidential candidates have pitched themselves to the young voters. But at rallies, candidates haven’t spent much time articulating their pledge to youth who are estimated to be the largest bloc of voters.    

The NRM manifesto recognizes that “Uganda has the world’s second-youngest population, behind Niger” and “over three-quarters of Ugandans are below 30 years.”

There is no precise estimate of how many of these youth registered to vote. In the past decade, 7.2 million voters were added on the voter register. These are perhaps the youthful voters in their 20s and early 30s who will be a key voting bloc if they vote. 
Districts with high increase in new voters

In 2019 when the voter register was updated, 2.3 million new voters were added to it. Napak had a 31 per cent increase in voters from the 2015 figure—the highest in the country. It’s followed by districts such as Wakiso, Luweero, Masaka (when combined with the city which was one district in 2016), Butambala, Kampala and Kyegegwa with over 25 per cent voter increase.    

Ayub Ssendagire, 21, a cobbler in Kamwokya--Kampala who will be voting for the first in the coming election says he wants a president who will provide employment opportunities for young people.   

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Kaweesi Emmanuel, from Masaka, says he was encouraged by his parents to register, but now believes that he holds the power to determine the future leadership of the country.

"If a person chose a candidate, he benefits because that candidate will be promoting what he believes in. And if a person he votes doesn’t deliver, he can vote for another person in the next round of elections.

Kasule Joseph, also from Masaka, says he registered to vote after the Kabaka (King of Buganda) encouraged the youth to participate in elections. Kasule says he will be voting for a candidate who will improve education and health.    

Similar to Ssendagire, Kinaalwa Alex from Mawokota-Mpigi, a first-time voter says he completed Senior Four last year but has no prospects of finding a job or fees to continue with school after COVID. He is optimistic that his destiny will change when he votes for a new leader.

//Cue in; “amanya Kinaalwa Alex…

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Aine Onesmus, a vendor in Kampala who will also be voting for the first time says he will vote for Museveni because of the peace he ushered in Uganda. Onesmus says his parents used to tell him horrific stories of the past regimes.   

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Namata Gladys Ssimbwa, a statistics lecturer at Kampala International University (KIU) who wrote a thesis of voting patterns in Kampala Central more than a decade ago reckons that youth will vote. When she conducted the study, old people were voting more than young people but now, she reckons “young people are very, very interested” in voting.   

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Frank Muhereza, the Center for Basic Research Executive Director argues that there will be a high turnout of first-time voters because of “emotional attachment” that comes with doing something for the first time.  

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