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Policy advocate to unmute youth voice in decision making

Washington Fellowship
Public policy advocate, Emmanuel Ndlovu, says there is a need to devise models of development that will help transform underrepresented and underdeveloped communities.

Public policy advocate, Emmanuel Ndlovu, says there is a need to devise models of development that will help transform underrepresented and underdeveloped communities.


Chief among them is the involvement of young people in policy formulation and decision making.

“Young Zimbabweans are living at a precarious moment in history where they do not have a permanent place in decision making fraternities,” says Emmanuel.

“They have been reduced to mere recipients and victims of centralized thinking which does not view problems in a manner instrumental to their solutions.”

Emmanuel is one of the 30 young Zimbabwean leaders selected as 2014 Washington Fellows, the new flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). He relishes the chance to visit “the fountain of innovation” and is anxious to receive greater “exposure to American civilization.” He also believes the opportunity will give him the tools to keep young people’s hopes alive.

During this professional development exchange program, Emmanuel will spend six weeks at the University of Virginia and The College of William and Mary where he will study civic leadership. “I hope to learn more about innovative leadership, cultivating democracy, building strong civil society organizations, sustainability and mobilization,” says Emmanuel.

Emmanuel cut his teeth in civil society when he started as a volunteer at the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA).  He now coordinates programs for the organization, including planning engagement with various civil society and government civil society stakeholders.

His frustration with the lack of youth participation in policy development has helped shape his organization’s robust programming in Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

“Coming…from a remote place situated at the back of beyond in Kezi’s St Josephs, a place where the only evidence of the existence of a government is nothing more than a police station, I contend that young people are part of the solution to problems facing their communities,” he notes.

Emmanuel is currently the Deputy Secretary General and Board Member for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations – Southern Region.

He believes programs such as the Washington Fellowship are important because they “allow young leaders an opportunity to deepen their conceptual knowledge and understanding of globalization through exposure to international perspectives.”

On his return to Zimbabwe, Emmanuel says in additional to the rich experience of meeting other youth from across the continent he hopes to “bring back the American experience of the practice of the democracy of individual participation.”

He explains, “Exposure to the American civilization which is hinged on the principles of universal suffrage and democracy of individual participation shall enable me to take back home models for citizen participation that embody concerns from all peoples regardless of their histories and political affiliations, be they native citizens, prisoners, foreigners or fugitives.”

Emmanuel graduated with an honors degree in Linguistics from the University of Zimbabwe in 2009 before completing graduate studies in Development Studies at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo four years later.