BY VENERANDA LANGA
PARLIAMENT has recommended that the Zimbabwe Youth Council must be apolitical in order to ensure that youths from across the political divide benefit from its programmes as provided under section 20 of the Constitution.
This was revealed in a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation which was recently presented in the National Assembly by committee chairperson Mathias Tongofa (Zanu PF).
Section 20 of the Constitution stipulates that youths must be accorded access to appropriate education and training, have opportunities to associate and to be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life, have employment opportunities and avenues for economic empowerment and recreation activities, as well as be protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and abuse.
“Most of the youth felt that the Zimbabwe Youth Council was partisan in nature and that it was not fully helping the participation of youth as it was mainly targeting youth organisations,” the committee report
“The committee noted with concern that the partisan nature of the Zimbabwe Youth Council was a drawback in ensuring government’s compliance with Section 20 as this would exclude other youths with a different political view. For maximum involvement of the youth, the committee underscored the need for the Zimbabwe Youth Council to be apolitical.”
The Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust (YETT) told the committee during public hearings that the ZYC was partisan in its operations.
“YETT underscored the need for the Youth Commission to be disability sensitive. It highlighted the need for the commission to include youth with disability and that the majority should be the youths. This will help on the inclusivity of the commission as the disabled youth have the same rights to able-bodied youths.
“The youth in Mutare lamented on the partisan nature of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and Zimbabwe Youth Council officials to the effect that it was detrimental in pushing the youth agenda. They implored the need for the Youth Commission to be multifaceted. They requested for the commissioners to undergo public interviews to reduce chances of nepotism, and for them to have a minimum educational qualification. They further suggested that they should serve at most a term of five years,” the committee report read.
The committee also said with the current economic difficulties, government should in the interim strengthen the ZYC and financially support it to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
“In the long term, the government must set up an independent Youth Commission through enactment of a National Youth Act. The National Youth Act would outline the setting up of the Youth Commission and its duties and also how government can enforce a youth quota on employment, boards and other programmes to ensure maximum youth participation,” the committee said.
The committee recommended that government should safeguard the independence of the ZYC by ensuring that it has a board in place, which is constituted by youth representatives appointed through an inclusive process.
“The ZYC should be decentralised to ward level and enjoy total independence without government interference. The Youth Commission should be included in the Constitution like every other independent commission as mentioned in chapter 12 of the Constitution,” the committee said.