Over the years, young people in Zimbabwe have displayed amazing interest in taking an active role in promoting and contributing towards transforming the normative social, economic and political landscape that is currently an “adult’s world” especially in Matabeleland South province. Through various engagements, youth from across the province continuously lobby and advocate for friendly policies, a tolerant environment that accommodates their different aspirations and consequently increase their participation and representation in decision-making spaces. Despite these efforts, we believe there is no clear path that promotes effective participation and representation of youth in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation—the parent ministry.
The observation comes also after carefully going through the national youth policy, which was recently developed following the notable changes in the political, economic, socio-cultural and technological landscape in Zimbabwe. The policy emphasizes that youth shall play a pivotal role in realizing Vision 2030 as they form the bulk of the population and possess creativity. However, the policy fails to share a clear pathway as to how these youth shall be engaged or shall contribute towards a middle-income economy by 2030.
While the policy recognizes multiple players in the youth development sector such as the government, nongovernmental organizations, business sector, churches, youth groups and community-based organizations, it fails to share how these can collaboratively work together towards realizing an active, energized young person who is eager to foster national development in all aspects. It is our conviction that the policy has to be clear on how these stakeholders can come together and work towards improving youth participation and representation, which will then positively contribute to a middle-income economy by 2030.
As the Community Youth Development Trust, we acknowledge the emphasis in the policy that youth representation in Boards of parastatals and other Government entities should increase at the same time promote youth inclusion in delegations participating in regional and international meetings, conferences and events. We believe this can make a difference in amplifying a youth voice in critical decision-making forums. Therefore, for this to come to fruition, there is a need for a clear pathway supported by mechanisms for checks and balances such that national objectives are met.
As such, we call upon the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to develop a clear policy implementation plan that will guide the promotion of youth spaces through creation of participatory spaces and youth capacity development for active youth citizenry. Such a plan will also enhance coordinated approaches and promote synergies between and amongst various stakeholders concerned with youth participation in the private, public and development sector thereby feeding into the country’s 2030 vision. The plan should clearly spell out youth empowerment strategies especially on information access, skills development and knowledge accumulation as these are central components in the broader political, economic, social and cultural spheres of youth empowerment.