HomeOpinion & AnalysisZim crying for a vibrant national youth policy

Zim crying for a vibrant national youth policy

Fradreck J Mujuru

AN opportunity to travel to Chesa in Mt Darwin reminded me of the need to implement and monitor national youth policy initiatives.

Just after crossing the Mutondwe Bridge, the environment speaks for itself, the need for attention.

I’m referring to an area that has been home to businessman James Makamba, the late Mr Elliot Mujana (both former MPs) and the famous but late CIO deputy director-general Menard Muzariri, who was a trusted securocrat in the late former President Robert Mugabe’s administration.

The history of the area cannot be complete without acknowledging the representation and leadership of former Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who was the MP for the area for over a decade.

Heavy footprints of the liberation war can be seen in the form of protected areas at Nyamahobogo Secondary School and in Nyatsoko.

There are old, wretched vehicles and other war remnants that are visible. With such a backdrop in mind, it might only be fair if we give Chesa the attention it deserves by empowering the youths so that they are able to develop the area.

Youth empowerment entails allowing young people to gain control of resources, have intrinsic capabilities of using the resources around them, make them gain self-confidence through inner transformation of consciousness, which enables them to overcome external barriers of accessing resources or changing traditional ideology.

Empowerment of the youth is critical as it ushers them into a new age of self-reliance.

Our national youth policy is the best-organised approach where young people are conditioned to face the future.

The revised 2013 national youth policy’s foremost agenda was to train the youth to gain vocational skills.

This agenda was flanked by other key agendas such as health, gender equality, education, research, empowerment and participation.

After my observation in Chesa, I noted that rural youths were sidelined in development issues.

Such exclusion is worsening their socio-economic well-being.

Chesa only has two secondary schools, Nyamahobogo and Nyakasikana, which after all are yet to be upgraded to high schools. They are approximately 35km apart.

Pensive analysis should be done to fundamentally proffer solutions to students who stay far from schools and main roads in areas such as Manyuchi, Danzva, Kujawara, Ruuya, Nyamhara, Nyanhoro, etc.

These pupils travel more than 50km a day to and from school, forcing some to drop out of school.

Chesa does not even have a vibrant vocational training centre. A vocational training centre would have helped locals to acquire knowledge in areas such as mechanics, catering, tailoring, building, welding, driving, cosmetology etc.

The only “profession” that youths know of is farming, which knowledge they acquire from their parents.

It is a sad story that successive former MPs never bothered to spruce up the constituency by establishing a vocational training centre.

Now the buck is with MP Stephen Kabozo to bridge the gap and establish one.

Chatting to youths in the area, I realised that they do not have a voice on critical community issues.

Youths have a role to play in becoming watchdogs of local resources to prevent abuse, theft, corruption and environmental degradation.

I was overjoyed to learn of the existence of a community court at Nyamahobogo.

This is a positive move that shows the area prioritises dispute resolution and fair trial of offenders.

This institution is a product of community culture and for transparent purposes, diverse people should be allowed to participate in checking and balancing processes.

However, I noted that there was lack of inclusivity and representation as the court is manned by elderly men only, no youths and women.

How can such a court hear diverse issues about women and youths fairly when they are not represented?

This is a clear testament to lack of empowerment because youths are not taking up their places, and are lacking critical thinking and problem solving, hence afraid to speak out.

Youths in Chesa need mainstreaming because it provides them with a leeway for pursuing the vision for an egalitarian world since it encompasses young peoples’ aspirations for development planning and ensures equality between the young and the old.

One reason our national youth policy is not reaping dividends is amnesia because “whenever government has policies that aptly address relevant issues, it chooses not to implement them”.

Doing so to the youths is giving them a tag of being useless.

My opinion is that we should revisit the national youth policy and take stock. Zimbabweans are itching for the policy to be reviewed, keeping an eye on technology, political and socio-economic empowerment.

The National Youth Council and other stakeholders should red-flag such issues and provide up-to-date information to policymakers.

Paying lip service to youth development promotes disillusionment among the youths themselves.

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