JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Young persons are being encouraged to participate in the country’s political process, starting at the local government level.
  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, made the call while voicing his disappointment that Jamaica’s youth continue to shy away from this important aspect of the nation’s development.
  • He argued that those who are interested in getting involved do not have to become members of parliament in order to be “good” politicians, as their work at the community level will still be impactful.

Young persons are being encouraged to participate in the country’s political process, starting at the local government level.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, made the call while voicing his disappointment that Jamaica’s youth continue to shy away from this important aspect of the nation’s development.

He was addressing youth mayors during a luncheon he hosted for them at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, on December 5.

The Minister said young persons should feel proud to become a part of the country’s governance, which has a rich legacy. He noted, for instance, that local government has produced four national heroes, three prime ministers, and countless ministers of government.

“So, with that rich heritage, it means that there has to be a generation that protects that legacy and builds on that, and we have to start with you first,” he said.

Mr. McKenzie further contended that young Jamaicans have a golden opportunity to participate in the political process, which is a privilege many citizens in developed countries do not have, where freedom of speech may be restricted.

The Minister said it is now time for young persons to lead the charge, as most members of parliament are over the age of 50.

He argued that those who are interested in getting involved do not have to become members of parliament in order to be “good” politicians, as their work at the community level will still be impactful.

“Local government is where the substance of representation lies. That is where it begins, dealing with the issues that are more essential to our day-to-day lives – our gullies, our drains, garbage collection, parks,” he said.

In the meantime, the Minister praised young persons who are already involved in the local government system by participating in the youth councils, which are held by municipal corporations annually.

“Your participation in this process should be a vehicle for further participation in our political process,” he said.

The Youth Mayors’ Luncheon was held as part of activities for Local Government and Community Month.

During the event, winners were selected for the first annual Youth Minister of Local Government and Community Development Essay Competition, which explored two topics.

Youth Mayor of Kingston, Monique Brown took the top prize for her essay, which focused on the topic ‘What would I do to transform local government if I were to be appointed local government minister?’.

She received a plaque, $100,000 as personal prize money and $250,000 towards a community development project.

Meanwhile, student of William Knibb High School, Nastacia Linton, won $100,000 for her essay, which dealt with the renaming of infirmaries.