On December 15, 2022, 11 youth political party members across four African countries came together in Nairobi, Kenya for a final regional dialogue to present their personal projects accomplished through NDI’s Political Party Leadership Institute (PPLI) program. The regional symposium marked the completion of the 2021 cohort and their transition into the program’s Alumni Network.
Following a competitive selection process, in January 2022, the Institute initiated a rigorous training curriculum for selected youth party members from 25 political parties. The curriculum focused on skills to identify issues within their community, conduct research, and how to begin their projects. Over the course of four weeks of virtual training, class assignments, and facilitated group discussions, participants were taken through topics such as branding, fundraising and budgeting, public speaking, and networking. For the remainder of the project, the cohort received mentorship from PPLI Faculty and party leaders to refine their presentation skills and strategies.
Over time, participants practiced skills taught during training sessions and continued working with their mentors and their projects. The cohort reported greater confidence in themselves and sharpened their abilities to further their projects. Specifically, 54.5 percent of the cohort participants reported that they were very confident in sharing their initiative with their political party, and 13 political parties took new action on an issue their member’s initiative addresses.
PPLI 2021 cohorts shared their perspectives about the program and how it has enhanced their skills and visibility in their parties
Tinashe Mazala, a member of the National Restoration Party in Zambia, described that the Leadership Institute provided her an opportunity to revamp an existing party proposal that was discarded. She stated, “PPLI enabled me to take a party idea off the shelf, breathe new life into it, and operationalize it in a way people weren’t considering”. Tinashe’s project, The Young Leader’s Business Challenge, addresses the knowledge and skills gap faced by young politicians seeking to create businesses or pursue their personal initiatives.
Kipngeno Rono, a member of the United Green Movement (UGM) in Kenya, explained that since his graduation from PPLI, he has now partnered with an organization to continue pursuing his passion for assisting smallholder farmers. He stated, “I owe it to PPLI for giving me the platform and skills that led to this collaboration”. With this new partnership, Kipngeno will train other farmers on planting coordination, record keeping and logistical management.
Thole Harrington, a member of the Democratic Party in Zambia, initiated a project to combat electoral violence. He was inspired to do this after electoral violence took the life of his uncle following Zambia’s 2016 general election. Following his graduation from PPLI, Thole has continued to speak out against electoral violence and encouraged others to share their stories. In January 2023, he was appointed as the youngest member of the Democratic Party’s Central Committee and is now serving as the Deputy National Youth Chairperson for Media Administration. In this position, he will share the party’s youth policy and continue his outreach to victims of electoral violence.
The 2021 cohort will be joining the previous PPLI graduates as part of the alumni network. The expanding community of PPLI Alumni networks will serve as mentors for the 2023 cohort participants. A member of the 2020 Alumni, Chriss Connex, who is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party in Malawi, implemented the lessons learned about drafting policy briefs and advocating for problems that affect the youth in Malawi upon completion of the PPLI program. Specifically, he took the draft policy developed during the PPLI on implementing youth quotas and transformed it into the Quota4Youth campaign. This campaign gathered the support of six youth party members from different political parties, who are now spearheading this initiative. Chriss stated that the skills and learning he received from the PPLI were critical in working with his senior party members and working alongside different parties for a joint issue. Thole, reiterated the importance of mentoring and his excitement to join the PPLI alumni network. He stated, “Mentorship helps us dream big as someone deliberately dares you to go places you have not been before, and to strive higher.”
The third iteration of the PPLI is due to commence in the second quarter of 2023. Drawing on lessons learned from previous iterations, the program will more intentionally foster networking and relationship building as fellows work to refine and implement their projects, including with business and academic communities, youth inter-parliamentary caucuses and associations, civil society organizations, and activists, and other key stakeholders or constituencies.
Author: Makeda Fikremariam, Program Associate on the Southern and East Africa Team
NDI’s engagement with this program is implemented with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) program.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms, and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.