By Byron Mutingwende
The youths have come up with issues of high priority code named Key Asks that they want the government and other stakeholders to address as a matter of urgency.
This emerged at a breakfast meeting organised by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) that held in Harare on 15 November 2018 that was attended by members of the Zimbabwe Youth Council and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on youth chaired by Chivi North MP Mathias Tongofa.
Hon Tongofa promised that Parliamentarians were ready to listen to the key concerns of the youths so that they would enrich their knowledge when making laws and policies that are youth-friendly and inclusive.
Presenting the Key Asks, Wellington Bakaimani from My Age Zimbabwe said chief among the youths’ areas of priority was the education and skills development sector.
“We need an updated and all-inclusive education system that promotes employability, entrepreneurship and active citizen engagement. We proposed a Tertiary Education Act and effective implementation of the new curriculum,” Mungofa said.
The Key Ask 1 calls for broader education that includes civic education, sexual and reproductive health education, environment and climate education, vocational and entrepreneurship training compliant with technological advancement to nurture young people’s individual and provide youths with relevant opportunities according to their strengths.
The Key Ask 2 calls for an inclusive formal and non-formal education system that caters for the needs of people with disabilities as well as provides equal access to information and services for both urban and rural youths.
The second important priority area that the youths want attended to is on elections and governance.
“As young people we constitute more than half of the population and as such we want systems that allow us to participate and claim decision making posts.”
This augurs well with Key Ask 3 on the need to introduce a competence-based quota system (50%) in political representation and participation in democratic processes and access to political decision-making.
It is the same for Key Ask 4 on electoral and institutional reforms that ensure the delivery of free and fair elections, , accountable government, devolution and zero tolerance to corruption; and accreditation of youths to conduct civic and voter education in the electoral cycle and not solely towards elections. Tied to this is Key Ask 5 focusing on the need for well-funded and non-partisan National Youth Council.
The third priority area is on land natural resources governance: “When the land distribution was done, we were too young to benefit. We need fair access to land for both housing and farming. We want to benefit from our natural resources including vast amounts of under-utilised land minerals.”
Related to this is Key Ask 6, which says local youths should be incorporated in land natural resource extraction and value addition. This goes with Key Ask 7 that says information on mineral resources governance should be accessible to allow youths to have the ability to demand transparency and accountability. Key Ask 8 says youth inclusion in action-based solutions and projects planning and implementation including climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy. It also calls for review of resource policy to include support of youth innovations and products within value chains in the green industry sector.
The fourth priority area is on peace building and human rights: “We desire a functional National Peace and Reconciliation Commission that promotes national healing and addresses social and politically motivated conflicts.” This reads well with Key Ask 9 calling for realignment of laws to the Constitution to make the Bill of Rights effectual, ensure separation of power and detach partisan interests from state affairs.
The fifth priority area is on employment and livelihoods: “We want jobs. We want to be supported to create jobs.”
Key Ask 10 calling for audit of public service with the intention of job rationalisation and creation of job opportunities embraces this. It also moves along with Key Ask 11 with emphasis on empowerment of youths through systems such as mentorship programmes and affordable as well as credible VCTs and coordination of youth partnerships through the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture.
The sixth priority area is that of health and wellbeing: “Youths’ health issues are not prioritised; our health system primarily focuses on children and the old people and this has left youths vulnerable.”
This dovetails with Key Ask 12 that says health financing should meet the Abuja Declaration so as to ensure access to affordable and quality public health care services. This includes scrapping off maternity fees and provision of free sanitary wear to all youths including youths living on the streets; and Key Ask 13 focusing on the need to promote youths’ health especially in the provision of rehabilitation for drug addicts and recreation facilities for healthy lifestyles.