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Zimbabwe Youth Council a disgrace

By George Makoni

As I pen this article I am extremely pained by the level of manipulation, dictatorship, hypocrisy, brutality and all those bad sounding qualities which characterize the Zimbabwe Youth Council.

George Makoni
George Makoni

A body which came into being courtesy of an act of parliament (25:4) which sought to link youth formations under this umbrella body. It was put directly under the youth ministry. According to the mentioned act, it must comprise of a 15 member board, with a majority of them being appointed by the president.

To those who are elected by youth organizations, it is also the president who eventually gives a nod to their sitting on the body and generally most of those duties are done through the youth minister of the day, hence the fact that this animal is largely under the control of the president is undisputable in as much as it is inevitable.

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This chorus has always been on our hymns from the inception of the stated body. This is the body through which the National Youth Service was being supported with regards to its legitimacy or rather correctness in terms of being a harbinger of patriotism, empowerment and responsible citizenship to the youths, it has also been a conduit of resources to support its activities.

It is on record that this arm has been very critical in the sustenance of ZANU PF rule since 2000. Having had been mainly used to defend ‘the gains of the revolution’ by way of ‘dealing accordingly’ with those who were perceived to reverse them.

The graduates of the service herein mentioned provided a perfect combination with war veterans to silence opposing voices in all the elections which were held and in the 2000 land grab they played an instrumental role in terrorizing the white commercial farmers and perceived opposition Movement for Democratic Change supporters, some of them naively claiming that, they are war veterans, imagine such an assertion at the age of 20.

This being one of the many tales of the animal called ZYC, known in some circles as ZANU Youth Council, youths had felt things are going to transform greatly with the inception of the inclusive government.

This hope was brought about by the inclusion of civic society youth formations in the board of directors, prior to the past scenario whereby ZANU PF youths monopolized the board. The youths who got the nod from the civic society side include Lawrence Mashungu, Chamunogwa Arnold, Tichaona Masiyambiri, Vimbai Mulambo and Melisa Ndlovu.

This initially brought a relief to the youth movement because a general sentiment that our voices could now be heard by the council spread across the movement. Just like the inclusive government at its inception there was joviality and excitement.

During those days I vividly remember that the transfer of offices from Mukwati Building to Newlands where they are currently located brought some considerable joy to the youths whom I talked to, but given the shrewdness of the ZANU PF party I knew that somehow this could turn sour as time goes on.

The first step to contain comrades sent from the civic society angle, a ZANU PF loyalist, who up to now masquerades as a moderate in the name of Livingstone Dzikira, was appointed a director. This had followed his efficiency and effectiveness as Minister Kasukuwere’s personal assistant and prior to that he had obtained a bootlicking platform at the University of Zimbabwe where he was one of minister Kasukuwere’s graduate teaching assistants.

In my own view this has been very politically strategic since Livingstone has generally managed to push agendas on behalf of the minister, who is undoubtedly the most powerful Young Turk in the ZANU PF party.

The people who were deployed to represent civic society have in many cases been left with an egg on their faces, following dictating of pace by the minister’s blue eyed boy, whose behavior in the context of leading ZYC is synonymous to the one by my high school head boy.

He has largely been at the helm of crafting the National Youth Policy, crafting of ZYC programmes, the choice of facilitators and selection of representatives of the organization. I remember one of the board members from the civic society side complaining that’ he does not update us’, contrary to what the minister who recently gave him a pat on the back for always updating him on what is prevailing to youths.

The funniest or rather the most weird incident occurred on the 10th of January 2011 at HICC when delegates who had been invited to a youth planning summit ended up being bombarded with ZANU PF rhetoric which saw the un-objective attack of Hon Tendai Biti and some MDC officials, who were being labeled enemies of progress for bringing about sanctions and that usual staff meant to demean MDC and the civic society. Speeches which were expected to come from other non-ZANU PF elements were scrapped suddenly from the programme.

The same applies to the thematic groups which were anticipated to bring about direction for 2011 youth programmes. It ended up being a praise and worship of minister Kasukuwere and a pulpit to castigate all anti ZANU PF elements. The non-ZANU PF youths who were in attendance had to walk out in protest.

It was a bit too late since Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation had already beamed the endorsement of the process by youths from the civic society. The organizations which were recognized include Young Pan Africanist Movement, Youth in Mining, Youth for Independence and Upfumi Kuvanhu Trust.

The tension between ZANU PF youths and the ones from the civic society youth movement could be felt in response to the speeches which were being made. Hence in as much as the inclusive government has largely been a flop, to a larger extent the Zimbabwe Youth Council has largely been useful as a tool to further ZANU PF agendas ahead of the wishes of the broader youth movement.

Nonetheless I appreciate the efforts made by some youth organizations who have managed to force the youth wishes in the ears of decision makers from outside. Of particular importance are the documents on National Youth Policy which are being largely considered in the crafting of the National Youth Policy.

These organizations which provided the documents include Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT), National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), Young Voices Network and Penya Trust. Keep up the good work.

In a nutshell I call upon all the concerned civic society youth organizations to convene and reconsider their participation in the Zimbabwe Youth Council activities, lest we do not unconsciously endorse agendas which are detrimental to fellow youths in Zimbabwe.

Let’s set conditions for participation in Zimbabwe Youth Council or else we will be playing in the hands of Livingstone Dzikira, a ZANU PF angel, masquerading to be for us the youths.