By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Young people drawn from Southern Africa are agreeable that there is the need for an organised solidarity movement to push for youths’ concern.
This was the reflection at a 2-day –conference dubbed ‘Strengthening Youth Voices in Governance Processes in Southern Africa’ organised by Youth Forum Zimbabwe from Tuesday to Wednesday.
According to Youth Forum Zimbabwe director Ashton Bumhira, the current status quo of disaggregation has been a stumbling block to concerns of young people who ironically constitute the bigger demography in Southern Africa .
“There is unhealthy competition among us organisations that fight for youth issues in the region hence the need for an organised movement that will see amplified voices from Southern Africa build urgency around issues,” said the YFZ director.
Prominent Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) activist and secretary general of Swaziland National Students Union(SINASU),Maxwell Dlamini said the platform is ‘long overdue’ and blasted the Southern African Development Committee(SADC) for stifling young people’s voices.
“The platform is long overdue and SADC has remained a bloc of oppressing people because its structures only acknowledges youths representatives from national youth councils who are partisan shutting out youths from non-state actors ,”fumed Dlamini.
The activist who has numerous treason charges hanging on his head in his country said there is the inherent need to include young people in all decision-making processes .
A Botswana youth delegate bemoaned the voter apathy that still exists among youths even those that are educated in Southern Africa region .
“I have realised that we still have a high number of young people who are at times educated but who are not eager to vote ,”revealed International Republican Institute generational democracy Botswana alumni Kemo Moatlhodi.
The Southern African youths delegates got a lecture on how to create a vibrant regional movement from Kakaire Ashraf from Uganda who is communications director at Open Space Forum ,an organisation that advocates for youth issues.
“What you may emulate from East Africa is what we have done of creating Eastern African youth ambassador and annually hold a summit in Arusha, Tanzania where issues affecting East African youths are discussed ,” he said.
There was also the realisation to tap into the experiences of the liberation war movements from the old generation which were hugely a success in liberating Southern African states.
The conference ended with the process of forming the Southern Regional Youth Network following the appointment of Karamagi Andrew(Uganda), Tracy Gatawa ,Ashton Bumhira,Glen Andry Dhliwayo(Zimbabwe), Kudah Masenyama and Nangamso Kwinana(South Africa) who were tasked to form the interim working group that will then lead the whole process.