MARCH 12 is a special day, says Harry Kalaba.
But the Democratic Party leader laments the fact that as educated as the youth are, the current government has put their certificates and degrees under lockdown. And MMD president Nevers Mumba says there is need to be mindful of the examples the older generation is giving the youth.
“Today, we take our hats off to a group of youth, men and women with the greatest potential to change the socio-economic trajectory of our country,” Kalaba stated in his youth day message.
“Today, we take pride in the tremendous contributions of the young men and women to the political sphere of our beloved country.”
Kalaba stated that he today sees a youth full of innovation but that this innovation is not harnessed. He stated that today’s youth possessed significant entrepreneurial skills but that the environment was not enabling them to be private sector participants
“Today, I see a youth scientist and technologist returning home from abroad but the government has no plans to enhance the diminishing science base and industry for technology transfer,” he stated.
“Today, I see a differently gifted youth yearning for skills but the government has no plans for such youth. On this youth day, I appreciate the fact that in 2019 we have a youth population that is far more educated than ever before.”
The opposition leader added that Zambia today had a youth population far greater in numbers with collective zeal and energy which when well harnessed, could place Zambia on a global developmental path, “yielding economic dividends.”
“On this day, I lament the fact that as educated as the youth are, the current government has put the youths’ certificates and degrees under lockdown,” Kalaba stated.
“This government has simply failed to find the golden key to unlock Zambia’s socio-economic potential and job creation for the youth.”
He lamented further that Zambia had created a “desolate and desperate youth.”
“A few desperate youths are being exploited by politicians as tools of political violence and insults for political expediency, especially by the ruling party. These youths have been used to define politics as a dirty and dangerous field, hence perpetuating fear in those who have a positive agenda for genuine change, engendering youth development. To the youth, I say good always triumphs. The youth with a positive disposition and agenda for Zambia are much more than the misguided violent political misfits masquerading as political cadres,” he stated.
“I ask the youth to believe again. You and I will turn the status quo with the wheel of change. You and I will work together to create the Zambia we want.”
Meanwhile, Kalaba stated that the DP valued the contributions of the youth and hence created space for youth leadership in politics. Kalaba stated that the DP further advocated for “smart and violence-free politics in order to promote universal enfranchisement and participation in politics.”
“The DP believes that Zambia can have its equal share of demographic dividend if we invested in quality tertiary education with universal access for all, regardless of family background and economic status,” stated Kalaba.
“The DP further believes in stratification of educational loan schemes comprising tuition, lodging and meals to enable access to tertiary education for all and without leaving anyone behind. Let’s move together and create the Zambia we want.”
And Mumba said in his journey of over 50 years, he has come to appreciate the role that mentors play in the lives of the succeeding generation.
“We must equally consider the question of the ‘example’ that we are giving to our youth. It is said that the youth generally learn what we do and not what we say. In this regard, it is incumbent on all of us who have crossed from being youth to be very mindful of the examples that we are putting out there,” he said.
“If we do not want our youths to steal, then we should not steal. If we do not want our youth to be lawbreakers, then we should not be lawbreakers. If we want our youth to be great husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, then we must be great at those values. If we do not want our youth to abuse substances, then we should not abuse substances. If we do not want our youths to be violent, then we should not be violent.”
Mumba said the theme of this year’s celebration could not be more appropriate in helping to reflect on their plight, the current situation and the future prospects of the youth – ‘Zambian Youth: Generation Unlimited’.
He said in many respects, those who are in the adult bracket approached Youth Day with a sense of guilt.
“When we consider that the youth are virtually the ones that liberated our nation from colonialism and went on to lead our nation into very distinguished statehood in the region and globally and when we consider the many milestones that the youth of our country have achieved in the past, we can only hang our heads in shame and guilt,” Mumba said.
He said the average age of the liberation generation and subsequent cabinet of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the founding father, was of a youthful disposition.
“Many celebrated military generals of the team ascended to those responsibilities at a youthful age. Many academicians of the day were equally youthful when they took the reins from the colonial masters. This phenomenon was clear in every sphere of our society. The youth excelled greatly and made us very proud indeed as a people,” Mumba said.
“In our reflection this year, we must seek to unshackle the youth and unleash them. What we must do is to bring our youth face-to-face with the available opportunities. We must boldly announce to them that they are able to achieve and be everything they aspire to be. We must each start to create opportunities to mentor them and trust them.”
Mumba said there was need to create an environment of new hope in the youth.
He said in the absence of that, the theme would be rendered mere talk.
“They say, ‘I am not hearing what you are saying, because your actions are too loud’. On behalf of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, I would like to wish our future leaders, academicians, politicians, police, military generals, engineers, medical practitioners, teachers, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, a great and unlimited future,” said Mumba.