OPERATION Young Vote Executive Director Guess Nyirenda says the youth anywhere in the world are not only a critical and inevitable human capital and resource in development but must also be treated and seem to be treated as an integral component.
In a statement, Nyirenda said while his organisation appreciated efforts by the Zambian government in responding to the plight of the youth in the country, he was of the view that the acts by the regime were somehow a cosmetic intervention meant to attract the youth vote.
He, however, noted that the acts by government meant to win the youth vote, which is the majority block in the 2021 general elections, is disjointed and seem to be acts of desperation.
“It is quite shocking and worrying that a government that has a ‘perfectly’ developed and launched (and supposed to be in operation) 2015 National Youth Policy and its accompanying Implementation Framework and the Youth Empowerment and Employment Action Plan, can begin to work in such an haphazard manner where almost all ministers are paraded to address the youth. This clearly shows that government generally and the Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development in particular have been sleeping all this time regarding matters of youth,” Nyirenda stated.
“As OYV, we reiterate our message for the 2020 National Youth Day commemoration that we gave on the 12th of March this year on the theme ‘I take the lead’. The 12th March statement is reproduced at the end of this statement for the benefit of those that could have missed it,” he said.
Nyirenda stated that the admittance by the PF government that it had fallen short of the expectations of the youth was well noted on one hand but the haphazard mode of addressing the plight of this very important sector of society due to panic was not sustainable.
He said the haphazard mode of addressing the plight the youths was seemingly a strategy to win the favour of the young ones in relation to their numbers for 2021 election.
The OYV leader reminded the government that the youth were not homogeneous but heterogeneous in nature, meaning that any intervention to answer to their plight must be as comprehensive and all-encompassing in outlook, strategy and implementation as possible following what the policy framework espouses.
Further, Nyirenda noted and advised that the haste interventions which were supposed to have been done strategically and with focus from the time the PF ascended to power or at the time of launching the national youth policy, its implementation framework and the youth empowerment and employment action plan in 2015, were likely not to yield favourable results for the youth but rather cause more confusion.
He added that OYV was convinced that what the youth were interested in right now were not handouts but respect for their rights to express themselves and engage in any national discourse as partners or equals and not second class citizens whose significance is only realised and respected in the run up to and during elections.
Further, Nyirenda said what the youths were interested in were policy directions espoused in the national youth policy, its implementation framework and the youth empowerment and employment action plan of 2015 which was supported by a progressive law and not the archaic NYDC Act of 1994.