Bulawayo Youth Council Embarks On A Clean-Up Campaign

The Bulawayo Youth Council (BYC) in partnership with Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Green Pride and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe held a clean-up campaign in the Bulawayo Central Business District. The objective of the clean up was to commemorate International Environment Day which is a day that is set aside to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and to enhance political attention and action.

The Mayor of Bulawayo, Mr Martin K Moyo addressed the young people before the clean up commenced. He reflected on the importance of keeping the city of Bulawayo clean in order to uphold its status as the cleanest city in Zimbabwe.

“Bulawayo is still one of the cleanest cities in the world; therefore people need to maintain these clean standards. Clean up campaigns are excellent initiatives especially when youths are involved in the process,” said the Mayor, who also encouraged young people to carry out more initiatives like this in order to inculcate a culture of cleanliness in the city.

During the clean up, there was a realization that the main sources of litter in the CBD were campaign posters that had been scattered all over the city during the election campaign period. Young people suggested that the city becomes stricter in implementing its bylaws where citizens are supposed to seek permission to stick posters around the city and take the responsibility of pulling them down afterwards. This would ensure that the city was in a constant state of cleanliness.

The youth councillors also managed to collect more cans and plastic bottles for their recycling project which seeks to raise funds for their various developmental projects. Such an environmentally friendly way of raising funds was commended by the partner institutions that encouraged the youth councillors to continue promoting a green society.

As a way of advocating for a clean city, the youth councillors recommended that the NYDT should put up branded bins around Bulawayo. The Cleanup Campaign was an initiative of the BYC, which is part of NYDT’s Local Youth Councils.  More community projects are expected to be implemented by the BYC for the benefit of young people in the city of Bulawayo.  

Youth Councils Initiative empowers youths to take up key roles in local governance

The Youth Councils initiative is a project that was developed by the National youth Development Trust after the realisation that young people’s voices were marginalised due to the lack of representation at decision making bodies. The objective of this project was to form youth councils in all areas of Zimbabwe so as to bridge the gap existing between the elected leaders and young people. These local youth councils serve to represent the views of young people at a local level by giving them the opportunity to discuss relevant issues, engage with decision-makers and contribute to improving the lives of young people within their communities. 

Additionally, the initiative which has so far been established in Bulawayo, Lupane and Nkayi serves as a  mentoring platform for young aspiring leaders. These young people  carry out similar roles and functions  as the elected councillors at a micro level. This has helped build confidence in young people who have taken up their ambitions at a macro level. Though policy position papers resulting from youth council debates and consultations with other young people, the Bulawayo, Nkayi and Lupane youth councils have effectively represented the young people’s views to decision makers and in some instances have even influenced policy changes. 

Sean Ncube (26) of ward 22 in Bulawayo participated in the race to become a youth councillor under the National Youth Development Trust’s Youth council initiative in 2010. It was the first time the organisation had embarked on such a project. He was successfully elected by his peers in ward 22 and was subsequently chosen by fellow youth councillors to become the Bulawayo Youth Council chairperson. This meant that he would be a leader in his ward and oversee all the youth councillors in Bulawayo. 3 years later, Ncube has joined the group of elected city councillors seeing to the needs of Bulawayo residents. He is now part of the decision makers and continues to carry forward young people’s aspirations.Having succeeded during the 2013 harmonised election the Nkulumane based youth, credits his success to the mentoring he received at NYDT when he was still a youth councilor.

 “My involvement in the Youth Councils Initiative under the Bulawayo Youth Council contributed in grooming me to take up a leadership role in my ward,” he said. “It was a stepping stone for my political career and towards developing my community. This is a continuation of the work i did whilst I was at NYDT, this is the opportunity for youthful views to be incorporated in solving Bulawayo’s perrennial problems.”

The youth council initiative is a project that stresses on gender equality. Young women have also taken up leadership roles despite their low participation levels in the past. Selinah Dube (33) of Ward 15 in Bulawayo was a youth councillor for her ward in 2012. Having made formidable strides in spearheading young women’s issues at a local level, she decided it was time to have her voice heard as an elected leader. She took part in the political party primary elections but failed to garner the required number of votes to secure her a place to represent her party in the harmonised elections. 

“This is not the end of my quest to represent  young women at decision making level. The leadership trainings we obtained from NYDT taught us the importance of perseverance,” said Dube. “I want to urge young women who are part of the youth council initiative to take it as a serious learning curve as it moulds us for our tomorrow.” 

The Lupane and Nkayi youth councils have also recorded great successes. Five young people have been chosen to be part of the village development commitees and ward development committees. These committees are the driving force of all development projects in their respective villages or wards. Cosmas Ncube, Herrington Dube and Qiniso Mpofu of Nkayi and Bhekizitha Nxumalo and Pardington Tshuma of Lupane have all been elected to be part of these committees. Qiniso Mpofu is the only female that was elected; a sign that partriachy is still prevalent in rural communities, where young women are confined to the private sphere. However, he election also represents strides made by the local youth councils initiative towards building the confidence of young women.

The resounding success of the youth councils initiative is evident in the young people who were part of this project. It is the hope of the NYDT that these youth councils shall be established throughout Zimbabwe and shall continue to ensure that the youth voice is heard at all decision making levels.  

 

Youth development initiatives to capitalize on social media

By Karen Gwinisa

The introduction of mobile internet has caused many youths to become addicted to social sites to the extent that most youths in urban areas are living the greater parts of their lives online.

While social networking sites help youths remain in touch with other people by facilitating cheaper and faster ways of communicating, they have also made youths become anti-social to their immediate neighbours. As a result of economic instability and deindustrialization in Bulawayo, most youths in Luveve are unemployed. However, they seem to be content with their situations as long as they can keep in touch with friends in the virtual world. As such, technology and social media is creating a society of isolated individualistic young people offline.

While there is a lot that young people can learn online, there is the danger that parents have no control of the kind of advice these youths get online so they are left vulnerable to being misled. For instance, some sites also act as online dating platforms that expose youths to immoral activities such as pornography. In some cases this results in them engaging in early sexual activity exposing them to STIs, HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.

A brief survey with young people from Luveve showed that young people have no interest in the youth center as they feel it is boring, has outdated equipment and no interesting activities that are attractive to them.

Therefore it is critical for young people themselves to revolutionize the youth centers and lobby the relevant stakeholder to avail new advanced technology that will be attractive to youths. Given the fact that the youths in Luveve are already spending most of their time online, initiatives in the youth centers could be focused on giving them knowledge of how best they can use social media and the internet to develop themselves by finding opportunities online rather than focusing on immorality.

Karen Gwinisa is one of the youths trained by the NYDT in citizen journalism and effective use of ICTs. She is currently doing her A’levels and writes in her personal capacity.

International Youth Day Commemoration

NYDT joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Youth Day under the theme Building a better world, partnering with the youth. This theme is commemorated in line with five priority areas under the UN System Wide Action Plan on Youth which include:
• Employment,
• Entrepreneurship,
• Education (including sexual and reproductive health)
• Political Inclusion
• Citizenship and Protection of rights

As the world commemorates this day it is pivotal that Zimbabwe conducts introspection on the attempts at supporting the key youth priorities under the Youth Action Plan. The International Youth day is equivocal in recognizing and appreciating the youths as central towards the development of the world in general and country in particular.
As much as NYDT recognises attempts at youth inclusion and government supporting initiatives that are: The development of the National Youth Policy, the establishment of the Youth Funds and inclusion by the Indigenization and Medium Term Plan policies.
However efforts must be enforced by the government in partnership with other stakeholders in promoting Youth initiatives in Zimbabwe.
We strongly implore that political parties should mainstream the total inclusion of youths as key decision makers and proponents in party policy developments
We underline the critical need to implement the MTP in totality as it promotes entrepreneur development and attempts to reduce the unemployment rate from 80 percent to close to 55 percent
We encourage the Government to strategically partner with NGOs and Civic Society Organisations in promoting youth awareness on various issues that contribute towards national development.
We recommend that issues that promote youth development in totality should not be used as a smokescreen for political aggrandizement and machinations, instead they should be a base in developing a prosperous generation.

Building a better world, partnering with the youth

NYDT’s Position on the Draft Constitution

National Youth Development Trust held a youth Convention on the 23rd of June 2012. One of the key outputs from the Youth Convention were the non-negotiable benchmarks that ought to be factored in the draft constitution.
The current draft constitution has managed to factor critical issues raised by the youths during the Youth Convention these issues are:

• Broad based bill of rights that safeguards the right to education, shelter, health and life.
• Establishment of the Independent Commissions. The commissions that have since been proposed in the draft constitution include the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Gender Commission, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Anti- Corruption Commission.
• A clear recognition of 16 official languages in Zimbabwe.
• The inclusion of the citizenship clause that ensures that youths are registered under the Zimbabwean law

However, the Draft Constitution as per the expectations of the youth did not recognise:

1. The establishment of an Independent National Youth Commission to support youth economic and social developments programmes.
2. A shift in the majority age from 18 to 16 years and the call for young people in that age to be allowed to vote and be voted for political office. The law recognises that at 16 anyone can choose a life partner if that is so why not be allowed to make a decision about voting.
3. The total inclusion of devolution of power as a part of the governance architecture. Currently the draft contains a watered down version of devolution which is not clear on fiscal devolutions and has no provisions for the direct election of provincial governors into office.

NYDT will continue engaging with other stakeholders to ensure that the youth convention resolutions at the convention are factored into the 2nd draft before it goes for a referendum

First time voter Campaign launched

Youth representatives from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations have endorsed the first time voter campaign, dubbed X1G campaign, a meaningful engagement of youths in electoral processes.

Addressing youths at the launch of the campaign, ZANU PF Youth National Secretary General, Leslie Ncube emphasised the need for young people to participate in elections in positive light. He also urged them to be tolerant of each other despite their diverse political backgrounds and affiliations. Fortune Mlalazi from the MDC also underlined the need for youths to respect each other’s ideas for the betterment of the country. Adding on to those sentiments, MDC-T provincial youth chairperson, Themba Nyathi said that youths should effectively participate in the elections and become a vibrant force in setting up a youthful agenda.

“Unless young people begin to be active in voicing their issues and positively participating in elections, youth issues will not be given space. As young people we need to be proactive in setting the youthful agenda for the nation,” he said.

The Guest of Honour, Dr Mandla Nyathi unpacked to the youths the power one vote can have and why young people need to take part in electoral processes while effectively contributing to the development of their communities.

“Youths should use the power of numbers to hold leaders accountable and to amplify their issues. In order to achieve this there is need for youths to organise themselves across political divides, be unified and speak with one common voice,” he said.
All these sentiments were echoed during the official launch of the first time voter campaign in Bulawayo on Friday July 13, 2012. The campaign is being spearheaded by a consortium of eight youth organisations namely the National Youth Development Trust, Youth in Democracy Zimbabwe (YIDEZ), Youth Forum, Platform for Youth Development (PYD), Students Solidarity Trust (SST), Zimbabwe Young Women Network of Peace Builders (ZYWNP), Youth Agenda Trust (YAT) and Students Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ). The aim of the Campaign is to encourage young people to register to vote and was necessitated by the realization that young people are apathetic when it comes to electoral processes in Zimbabwe.
The launch was attended by over 200 young people who all acknowledged that youths are a key electorate and therefore need to meaningfully participate in electoral processes if they are to make a difference in shaping Zimbabwe’s destiny. A blend of Bulawayo based young artistes entertained the audience through performances that encouraged young people to register to vote. These included Umdumo Wesizwe, Djembe Monks, Khayisa dance group and stand up comedians Ntando and Clive.
The X1G is a peaceful celebration of youth vibrancy that symbolises the power of one vote in a way that invites young people to take up the call for participation. The campaign is a platform for collective action towards achieving the goals and aspirations of a generation of democratic activists who are prepared to take action and defend such action in pursuit of a better Zimbabwe. While the X1G campaign focuses on voter registration, it signifies subscription to an idea that young people in their numbers, can make a difference.

Statement by Bulawayo Youth Council on Government investigation of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC)

The recent reports by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development on setting up a team to investigate the Bulawayo City Council are generally a welcome move. The team as stated by the Chairperson is mandated to gather information regarding to council’s governance and administration in relation to “alleged corruption tendencies and leasing of shops among other issues”. No doubt, such investigations are an attempt at promoting conducive and accountable governance structures in the country. Also, such investigations if promoted have a potential of promoting transparency to local authorities.

However, of significant concern especially to the Bulawayo Youth Council is the fact that investigations of other cities that have far worse corrupt tendencies have been left untouched. If anything the Ministry has casted a blind eye on corrupt tendencies in other cities and ironically has put more weight in frivolous cases such as those in Bulawayo. Such councils that have been at the height of corruption include Chitungwiza and Harare. In the former case shocking revelations have been noted in which the members of the “revival team” are getting unreasonable salaries yet service provisions have remained diabolic. However, serious investigations have not been commissioned in such cases. Such selectiveness relegates the youth council to have a premonition of the Minister deliberately neglecting investigations on those councils were he has a direct stake in. It is in line with this that the youth council eyes these investigations in Bulawayo with suspicion, and the council has reason to believe that this could be ruse from the Ministry to create a smoke screen of appearing to be flatly working out in promoting transparency.

Moreover, the underlying reason for this investigation has not been defined. The perceived reasons proffered by state papers for these investigations are not convincing. Statements have been proffered regarding public outcry over corrupt tendencies country wide. Such statements are a complete generalisation and do not clearly specify the singling of Bulawayo City Council. Therefore, it becomes mind boggling that the Ministry overnight decides to make investigations to the City.

Therefore Bulawayo Youth Council:

  • Hopes that such investigations do not have underlining machinations, and will not be used to fulfil cheap political goals.
  • Calls for the investigations of all local councils in the country by the investigation team so as to promote accountability as well as ensure that such initiatives gain credibility from the citizens and other organisations.
  • Implores the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development to make its findings known and clear to the general public.
  • Advises the Ministry if there are any reported cases of corruption to swiftly refer them to the Anti-Corruption Commission whose mandate is to investigate elements of corruption in the country.