By Joyce Mukucha
Following representation from young people and various stakeholders in quest of youth empowerment and participation, the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has advocated for the operationalisation of Youth Focal Desks and the appointment of youth representatives in all Government line Ministries and departments at all levels.
This is meant to ensure that youth issues are mainstreamed as well as to establish an enabling environment for youth to contribute to economic development.
Addressing the youths during a three-day-workshop held in Marondera, Mashonaland East Province, the Permanent Secretary for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Dr Thokozile Chitepo said in terms of demographic dividend, Zimbabwe was a youthful nation and it was of paramount significance to include youths in economic development processes.
“The future of the nation is in the hands of the youths therefore they ought to be equipped with knowledge and skills that help them to be visible in all facets of economic development. According to statistics, 77 percent of the Zimbabwean population is constituted by the young people who are 35 years and below thus the need for them to be empowered and supported so that they become visible and would be able to hoist the national flag high.
“I’m very happy to join you at this conference and it pleases me to know that our youths are brilliant and aim to achieve positive results. I’m truly confident that all ministries will be engaged to understand the mainstreaming process and the National Youth Policy’s strategy and these youth desk focal persons so that the potential of young people is not suppressed. My ministry is fully in support of programmes like these and it is our aim to ensure that the desks are functional and productive,” she said.
In line with Agenda 2030, she indicated, the youths will be in the driving seat. Dr Chitepo highlighted the need to put youths on board of state-owned enterprises and form clubs and associations that play an interface role between the government and youths.
Youth who attended the conference articulated a plethora of challenges which they said were hindering full implementation of the desks.
The Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) Director, Mr Cephas Nyoni emphasised that there was need for implementation, coordination and collaboration to ensure that youth challenges were dealt with. He indicated that implementation was vital in addressing the challenges of uncoordinated youth development programmes by ministries
“We now need to go straight into implementation as a way of tackling challenges being encountered by youths in as much as their participation in socio-economic development is concerned. In other words, we will make our next reports to our superiors. We should talk of what we have done or what we are doing to resolve youths issues rather not to keep on the surface concentrating on what issues are. Our programme of action as we set it on the 31st of July was that we were going to communicate the draft concept and ensure that other government ministries that have not participated were going to appoint the focal persons.
“The next step is to try and come with the areas or the interventions that various ministries feel that we can collaborate on in terms of implementing meaning to say we discuss your mandate and what you can do within your ministry together with us in line with youth empowerment agenda,” Nyoni said.
He added that youth empowerment was being implemented in various ministries and it was ZYC’s responsibility to consider actions being taken by each ministry and how they can tap in and mange youth development issues in a coordinated manner.
“The thrust of this workshop is to share with you how we think all of you can fit into a framework for implementing youth development. You have the opportunity to contribute concerning the terms of reference draft so that once we agree, we can then move in a holistic and coordinated manner and begin to work on programmes that are meant to improve your situation,” said Mr Nyoni.
Mr Nyoni highlighted that he was glad that there are quite a number of ministries that have appointed focal persons and were reaching out to those that have not yet done so.
The Youth Desk Focal Persons are expected to facilitate collaborative, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on development and empowerment initiatives in all sectors. It is also the focal persons’ role to maximise the impact of Government programmes and policies on and for young men and women among other commitments.