Youth leaders have committed to rally the youth to massively participate in national programmes, especially the forthcoming presidential election slated for August 4.
This was reaffirmed, yesterday, during a youth conference with focus on their role in 2017 National presidential election as well as unlocking the country’s untapped potential.
The meeting was organised by Rwanda Young Generation Forum in Kigali.
Charles Munyaneza, the executive secretary of the National Electoral Commission, urged all youth of voting age to register, and mobilise other Rwandans to participate in elections.
“Youth should also play a role in depicting the true picture of Rwanda against those giving a wrong impression, especially about elections. They should also work hard to safeguard national achievements,” he said.
Munyaneza said participating in elections is a political and social investment that helps shape the future and sustain economic gains.
He said the electoral commission staff are working hard from the village level and universities to register youth, including students.
“Youth in rural areas have done their best to register and update their voter status, but we still have some who are yet to do so, especially in urban areas. We are also looking at university students, most of whom we have not yet known where they will vote from since some of them are reluctant to update their status on the vote register,” he said.
Munyaneza clarified that the appendix voting list, locally known as umugereka, has been scrapped except for workers who will be away from their stations due to the nature of their work such as electoral commission staff, police, military, election observers, nurses, and those who registered in diaspora but will be in Rwanda during elections.
Students who do not register hoping that they could be added on the appendix list will miss voting, he warned.
Changes in youth percentage
The NEC executive secretary further explained that the percentage of youth voters has changed following recent government instructions indicating that youth bracket ranges between 14 to 30 years of age – instead of 35 years.
“The youth now constitute 45 per cent of all voters instead of 60 per cent following that change,” he said.
“Prepare yourself to pick a better choice among the candidates. It is better to know where the country is coming from and where it is headed for the youth to protect its integrity and sovereignty,” he said.
There are over 70,000 youth volunteers in the elections with at least four volunteers in each village of the country, according to Munyaneza.
Munyaneza decried reports of some of youth who allegedly received money to endorse some aspirants who were searching signatures from districts.
He cautioned the youth against selling out their votes, saying it compromises their independence of mind and choices.
Munyaneza urged the youth to analyse candidates’ manifestos and base on that to make their choice.
Brenda Nkusi, the executive secretary of the National Youth Council, advised the youth to make the right choice for a candidate who will deliver services and jobs that cater for their interests.
“Once youth make bad choices, they kill their future. They should explore Rwanda’s best untapped opportunities for investment instead of receiving bribes that can put the country in danger,” Nkusi said.