If there’s a story that depresses me almost more than any other when I survey the Ivorian newspaper front pages, it’s the headlines from ruling party youth members that they’ve been “forgotten”. Youth employment is a tragic and major issue for every government on the continent (if not in other parts of the world as well). That’s not my issue. My beef is with the line of reasoning that goes: we were part of the successful election campaign, so we deserve (government) jobs.
What I can’t work out is whether the most depressing thing is seeing these views expressed publicly, or not seeing any reaction to them, as if they’re perfectly normal. What the party youth are effectively saying is: we want cronyism, jobs for friends, nepotism and recruitment based on political affiliation not competence. You could probably add in ‘and give us a bloated civil service to boot’. One needs go no further than Ghana next door to see how much a costly civil service can weigh down the entire economy.
What you almost certainly won’t see in the press tomorrow is arguments from political leaders along the lines of i) ‘We were grateful for your support in the election, but we thought you backed us because you judged we had the best policies for the country, not that somehow you might personally get a job out of it’, ii) or ‘What you’re proposing has a very good chance of negatively impacting the whole country, iii) or ‘State employment is not the future’. The opposition press don’t seem to address these issues either – perhaps there’s recognition that it’s normal for a political side to ‘eat’ while in power. As I say, rather depressing.