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The New Age Voices - Issue 11
Youth Agenda Trust
January 20, 2011

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Youths call for proper youth policy consultation

Youths have called for a proper and comprehensive youth policy consultation that involves youths from all corners of the country and have called on the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) to embark on a thorough and inclusive process and not to involve them in rubberstamping skewed policies.

Article 12 of the Africa Youth Charter provides for every state party to develop a comprehensive and coherent national youth policy. Zimbabwe as state party has the Zimbabwe Youth Policy that was adopted by Parliament and enacted into a law in 2000 way before the African Youth Charter was adopted in 2006 by the state parties pending ratification.

Article 12 of the African Youth Charter also calls for extensive consultation with young people during the development of the national youth policy.

In view of this, youths said that the Zimbabwe Youth Policy is outdated and characterized with deficiencies as far as the fulfillment of the provisions of the African Youth Charter are concerned, since all national youth policies of state parties have to be developed in accordance with article 12 of the African Youth Charter.

However, youths say it is unfortunate that the Ministry of Youth development, Indigenization and Empowerment is undertaking a review process of the National Youth Policy without comprehensive civic education on the African Youth Charter Policy Development.

They said that such civic education is a prerequisite if a comprehensive and coherent national youth policy that is acceptable to the youthful citizenry of Zimbabwe is to be developed.

Findings of a research on the Zimbabwe Youth Policy that was carried out by the Youth Empowerment for Transformation (YET) noted that the majority of Zimbabwean youth are not aware of the policy which proves that the development of the policy was not informed by extensive consultation with young people. YET also noted that there are no guarantees for the freedoms, rights and duties within the National Youth Policy as per the main rulings on the guarantees of such freedoms, rights and duties of the African Youth Charter.

Also in its findings, YET said that the guidelines on the definitions of youth and sub groups adopted in the Zimbabwe Youth Policy are not synchronized with the definitions provided for within the African Youth Charter and that national programmes of action developed within the National Youth Policy framework are not adequately connected with an implementation and evaluation strategy.

"There is no adequate and sustained budgetary allocation for the programme of action within the National Youth Policy framework," YET said.

Zimbabwe Youth Council Board Member Tichaona Masiyambiri said that it was premature to try and validate a process that has not been able to reach out to all the youths to enable them to contribute their ideas.
He said that youths should be given the opportunity to extensively scrutinize the youth policy regardless of their location and not to concentrate on soliciting views from the urban areas only.

"The youth policy consultations should not be concentrated in Harare alone, but it should spread even to all the remote areas of the country so that the final document would be representative of all the youths in the country. We do not want a situation whereby the views captured are representative of Harare and Bulawayo only.

A youth organization, Youth Agenda Trust (YAT) said that as an organization that works with young people from marginalized communities, they view the familiarization and popularization of the African Youth Charter through teaching, education and publications of the respect of rights, responsibilities and freedoms contained in the African youth charter to its membership and other youth as a prerequisite before the Zimbabwe National Youth Policy Review process is carried out.

YAT said that this would ensure meaningful contribution by its membership and other youth during the National Youth Policy review consultations which the ZYC is undertaking since the youth will be aware of the freedoms, rights and responsibilities as well as the corresponding obligations and duties as outlined in the AYC. Other youth organisations have also concurred that the meaningful participation of young people during the consultations will guarantee the development of a youth friendly National Youth Policy that is acceptable by the generality of the young people in Zimbabwe.

"The youths within the national framework of the Zimbabwe youth policy review must participate actively both within the review process and as equal recipients and beneficiaries of such policies. This can be achieved by educating these young people on the provisions of the African Youth Charter prior to the national youth policy review consultations," YAT said.

The formulation or review of the National Youth Policy will enable young people to focus on issues affecting them so that they can mobilize each other towards addressing the problems and contributing towards the development of the society.

National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) said that the Government should adjust the National Youth Policy in line with the changing political landscape and must review it periodically to enable it to maintain relevance.

NYDT programmes official Njabulo Moyo said that there was need for flexibility if the national youth policy was to gain relevance given the vastly changed political landscape in the country. "We have to face the reality that the political landscape has changed. There is need for a policy document that reflects these changes. It is also important that the document is reviewed periodically so that it remains relevant in this ever changing environment," Moyo said.

He said that the youth policy should be a platform for young people to participate saying that any overtures to sideline the youth would end up as a self fulfilling prophecy. "If young people do not participate, the document becomes a borrowed piece of paper. This policy should involve us. The youths should be involved in the formulation and implementation of the youth policy, they should be in charge," said Moyo.

Zimbabwe Youth Council board member, legal practitioner and disability activist Abraham Mateta said that the national youth policy should ensure that all youths are represented in the final policy document because the current one is deeply flawed. Mateta also called f or th e mainstreaming of gender in the national youth policy to ensure equal participation between males and females. He also called for the need for the policy to mainstream disability.
"We see disability as cross cutting. About 10 percent of the country's population is disabled so these people must be accommodated to ensure that they participate. As the board we need to step up our efforts in ensuring meaningful participation of people with disability," said Mateta.

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