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New law seeks to gag youth
Youth Agenda Trust
April 29, 2013

The Ministry of Youth, Indigenization and Empowerment has come up with a new set of legislation that was effective February 15, that seeks to muzzle youth organisations operating in the country through the gazetting of the controversial statutory instrument SI 4/2013.

The statutory instrument among other things seeks to criminalise the work of youth organisations and associations and to overhaul the Youth Council Act which has thrown the youth sector into panic.

The SI states that it is mandatory for all youth organisations and associations to pay membership fees for each of their members US$3 by the 15th of February each year, a figure which translates to thousands of dollars for organisations such as student’s unions, church organisations, boys scout and girl guides etc.

The instrument also demands that all youth organisations must furnish the youth council with their annual work plans, budgets and donor information. The registration of all youth organisations will also be renewable every year at the discretion of the council.

Youth organisations argue that the instrument infringes on the freedom of association of young women and men, and that it insists on the obligation of the youth to the Zimbabwe Youth Council but is silent on its obligations and that of government to the youth.

The youth have since held a meeting with senators and urged them to adopt the adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the statutory instrument.

The Legality of the Instrument

Youth organisations argue that the regulations go further than what is provided for in the Act. Section 2 of the SI states that the regulations “apply to all youth associations that are directly or indirectly involved in youth activities”. The term “youth activities” is not defined in the regulations or the Act.

The regulations are not consistent with section 21 of the Constitution that protects freedom of association. The regulations are ultra vires the Act in that all youth associations must register [section 5], when the Act requires only the registration of national youth associations. Section 4 provides for the establishment of a Youth Council CEO when the Act already provides for a Director while section 5 compels youth associations to pay membership fees for their members although the Act does not empower the charging of a fee [the legal rule is that regulations may only prescribe fees if the enabling Act says so expressly or by necessary implication, which is not the case here].

Veritas says that the regulations are also liable to cause confusion as they divert attention from the fact that the function of the regulations is to supplement the provisions of the Act, not to spell out a stand-alone set of rules.

What the youth are saying

Wellington Zindove of the Youth Forum says the SI is a draconian instrument that is designed to rob the youth of Zimbabwe as it has nothing to do with the development of the youth but instead seeks to further impoverish them. “The government is supposed to be pouring resources to the youth and not the other way round,” said Zindove.

Students Solidarity Trust Director Simbarashe Moyo said the regulations are meant to reverse the gains that the youth have made in the democratization of the country and the emancipation of youth of Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980. “If it is allowed to see the light of the day, it will turn Kasukuwere into a headmaster,” Moyo said.

Youth Agenda Trust Programmes Manager Lawrence Mashungu says the latest stunt by minister Kasukuwere is a political gimmick meant to hoodwink unsuspecting youth into believing that the SI is meant to protect ‘national interests’. “It is sad that the ministry has the temerity of crafting such legislation without consulting the youth, it must serve the interests of young people and not persecute them,” said Mashungu.

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