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Zimbabwe Youth Council Act undemocratic
Youth Forum
September 26, 2011

The Zimbabwe Youth Council's (ZYC) Act, 10/1983, 15/1991, 171997, 22/2001, is emerging as one of Zimbabwe's most undemocratic acts in the true fashion of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) amongst all other pieces of legislation that have made Zimbabwe's political terrain a minefield. The act creates a false impression of a ZYC that seeks to represent young people from all lifestyles yet in reality it gives the minister of youth unfettered interference in youth work through partisan appointments of young people with a track record of supporting the minister's political party. More than half of the board members, i.e. 8 out of 15 members are cherry picked for appointment by the minister. This has seen the board of the ZYC being dysfunctional since it is literally hand-controlled and manipulated by the minister. Unfortunately, again, the youth minister appoints the board chair of the ZYC and this is exceedingly undemocratic and smacks of partisan political manipulation.

The ZYC consists of 15 members, of which the majority (8 members) is appointed by an individual (the Youth Minister) while the remaining 7 are elected by registered national associations. Of the eight positions that the Minister appoints his surrogates is also the powerful post of Chairman, thereby leaving the remaining elected seven officials with little, if any, influence over the operations of the Council.

Section 2 part 3B (1) (a) of the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act states: "The Council shall consist of a chairman appointed by the Minister after consultation with the President and in accordance with any directions the President may give him;" What this means is the all-powerful council post of the Chairman is decided upon by one man, the Minister, 'after consultation with the President', who also happens to appoint the Minister.

After appointing the chairmen, the Minister, in this instance Saviour Kasukuwere, appoints seven more members according to paragraph (b) of the same section, bringing the total number of his appointees to 8 out of the 15.

While the registered national associations are tasked with appointing the few remaining positions, it is quite disturbing to note that the Minister still has the power to appoint the remaining posts if the national associations, for one reason or another, fail to appoint these. Section 3B (3) (b) of the same act says if the national associations fail to elect all or any members of the council, the Minister may "appoint as members such persons as he thinks fit, and any person so appointed shall be deemed to have been duly elected at a meeting convened . . . " by member associations.

What the above quoted section implies is that if the member associations fail or are frustrated by the Minister into not electing the fewer members, the Minister has the power to appoint the whole Council, which will then be expected to preside over the same associations in a fair manner. The position of the Council's Vice Chairman is an electable post, elected by all the 15 council members, of which 8 are direct appointees of the Minister, meaning whoever the Minister wants to take up the post will automatically qualify due to undue influence on his appointees.

What the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act prescribes as a council is actually a reflection of the antediluvian ZANU-PF's day dreaming ambition for a one party state. The act leaves a lot of unchecked room for the minister to manipulate the youth of Zimbabwe towards the objectives of one political party at the expense of national development. This has given room to paramilitary youth training camps whose grandaunts are notorious and infamous for wanton acts of politically motivated violence against perceived enemies of ZANU-PF. The Youth Forum is in the process of constructing a critique of the ZYC act with the aim of rallying youth to lobby the parliamentary portfolio committee on youth affairs, their respective members of Parliament and the Inclusive Government to amend the act urgently in order to avoid further damage to national interest by elements hell-bent on promoting youth underdevelopment in Zimbabwe.

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