Southern African youths push for an organised regional network

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.