n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Youth leaders and the political system in Malawi : a study in attitudes and perceptions

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



This article examines the attitudes to and perceptions of democracy and the multiparty political system in Malawi of youth leaders in youth-oriented organisations. It is based on an analysis of 141 questionnaires with youth leaders of such organisations from four districts in Malawi. The article is also based on an analysis of twelve focus group discussions (three for each site) and in-depth interviews with 48 research participants drawn from the 144 who took part in the research study. Two of the districts are urban and two are rural. The research participants were drawn from organisations that are youth-oriented and deal with a range of issues including religion, the natural environment, the built environment, HIV / Aids, human rights and democracy education, provision of life skills and training, and the arts and culture. Most of these organisations deal with single issues, while others may deal with one to three of these issues. Rarely do these organisations deal with more than three. The study reveals that youth leaders have four varying perceptions of democracy, ranging from being wary about the permanence of democracy in Malawi, being aloof about politics, to feelings of being oppressed in a system that is supposed to be all-inclusive and to being passionate in a positive way about democracy. The study also reveals that youth leaders are very sceptical about professional politicians and politics. The youth leaders also believe that youth in Malawi are aware of politics and engaged in it in the unconventional sense of civic participation through youth organisations. The youth leaders believe that they offer an alternative for youth to take part in public life through their organisations rather than the youth arms of political parties.

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