COPPERBELT minister Japhen Mwakalombe says 200,000 jobs for the youth will be created after the Copperbelt investment expo. But in an interview after laying wreaths during youth day celebrations in Ndola, Mwakalombe said youths were a resource that should be well nurtured. He said the government had taken key interest in the plight of youths on the Copperbelt.
“As you are aware, we will be having the Copperbelt Investment Expo in June this year. We will create 200,000 jobs for the youths. That is what we stand for and we want our youths to use their skills,” Mwakalombe said.
“Again, it makes me happy to see that we have youths from different political parties. This is the way it should be. Youths should not be agents of political violence and abuse. It is a resource that we should make use of.”
Mwakalombe said youths should not get educated to be employed.
“Youths should stop thinking that they go to school to get educated and get employed. They are the resource of the country through their skills. We want to ensure that there is equality of development in all the districts of the Copperbelt. So to do this we need to create more jobs for our youths,” said Mwakalombe.
“We want to turn the old mines into tourism sites, we want to turn our weaknesses into strengths. There are a lot of opportunities that can help us attract foreign direct investment. Our target for the expo is to create 200,000 jobs for our youths.”
And some youths have expressed concern at the manner the celebrations were been held. PF Ndola district chairman Benjamin Chitondo said youths need to be given an opportunity to enjoy their day.
“Look at this, what is this day without any march past. The youth want to march. Here there is no violence from the youths. They are all together. Look all parties that want are here and no one is fighting, so if fights arrows for Lusaka, then ban Lusaka youths from marching, us here let us enjoy,” Chitondo said.
But Operation Young Vote has expressed disappointed that the plight of young people in Zambia has deteriorated under the Patriotic Front (PF) regime.
Executive director Guess Nyirenda said it was very appalling and saddening that Zambia had a leadership that had been sweet-talking young people with rhetoric every year and nothing seem to be done to address their plight.
“We know of efforts done (good efforts) but targeted at ‘wrong people’ – the PF praise singers (cadres in other words). We have observed with dismay and disbelief how the empowerment schemes to empower the young people of Zambia have been hijacked and turned to target the cadre of the PF. We continue to watch with shock the same leaders that thought these PF cadres-targeted schemes would work and yield results. Today these leaders are lamenting that they are unable to recover the loans from the youth (PF praise singers) they dished to resources to,” Nyirenda stated.
“As OYV, we are of the conviction that the theme for this year’s national Youth Day is misplaced. The theme: ‘Zambian Youth Generation Unlimited’ is a misplaced topic, especially with regards the way the PF government is handling anything to do with the youth. It is true that the Zambian youth are a generation unlimited, but the Zambian environment from (in) which these youth should operate from is closed up. There are very limited to no space in this country where a youth that is independent or one that supports the opposition could exploit their potential and be allowed to flourish.”
Nyirenda said that Zambia could not have a regime that plays enemy of its own citizens, especially the youth on one hand and render them unlimited on the other hand.
” It does not and cannot work that way. We are justified in our position as an organisation. Among the rationale for our conviction are: where are the bursaries and meal allowances for the poor students of universities and colleges? Where are the loans for the students and who is accessing these facilities among the students from the poor families? Where are the empowerment schemes and facilities for the non-PF praise singer youth? Why should the young people be ferried from Lusaka (i.e. Intercity Bus Terminus) and elsewhere during by-elections to go and cause confusions and all manner of disruptions and electoral violence if at all they should be unlimited to remain in Lusaka and emancipate themselves and their families? How do we expect the youth to be a generation unlimited when their Minister of Youth seems not to know let alone understand the ministry and what to do? It is clear to us at OYV and many other young people’s organisations, youth at large and the general citizenry that the Ministry of Youth and Sport is the ministry where a non-performer person is dumped as minister as long as they have a slight idea about sport.”
Nyirenda said for this year’s theme to be meaningful, there should be national youth empowerment schemes that would be implemented by a national non -partisan body.
“Empowerment must not be on patronage. Young People must be given leverage to exploit their potential regardless of their status (religion, political affiliation, sex/gender etc). The ferrying of young people from Lusaka or indeed any other place into another area for confusion and violence during by-elections must stop henceforth. The youth must be given a minister that is not only performing but also inspiring so that the young people of this country can draw lessons and hit the road to emancipating themselves, their families and the nation as a whole,” said Nyirenda.
“Young people of this great country (Zambia) have been and are still very ready and available to emancipate themselves and contribute to the development and well being of Zambia except they must be helped and enhanced by removing structural, operational systematic and programmatic barriers that limit them from exploiting their potential.”