PAPER PRESENTED BY THE MINISTER OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, INDIGENISATION AND EMPOWERMENT, HON. SAVIOUR KASUKUWERE AT THE GOVERNMENT FORUM OF THE WORLD YOUTH CONFERENCE: LEON, MEXICO: 25 AUGUST 2010
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of my country and President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I would like to start by congratulating the Government and people of the Republic of Mexico for successfully hosting this 2010 World Youth Conference. As a country, Zimbabwe, we wish to associate ourselves with as well as congratulate the people of Mexico on their anniversary of 200 years of independence. My country is now 30 years old and continues to transform the economy to become more inclusive.
Due to their energy, and their numbers, young people the world over contribute the most to the social, economic and political development of their countries and communities. They are central to the reform of national economies. In much of Africa they were in the fore front in the fight for independence.
However, despite their energy and potential, young people remain economically marginalized. Most of them remain impoverished, are unemployed or under employed. They lack the opportunities to participate meaningfully in the economic development of their nations. They are the most vulnerable to HIV, AIDS and other health risks as well as other forms of abuse, especially the girl child. In my country Zimbabwe the illegal economic sanctions imposed by some Western countries have affected the successful implementation of some of the youth development programmes.
In Zimbabwe youth empowerment is considered to be key to youth development. There is need to create equal opportunities for meaningful youth participation in the social, economic and political development of the nation. The future of any nation lies with its youth. The youth should thus be placed at the centre of any development strategies and opportunities should be created for them to play a leading role in poverty reduction and economic development.
As a way to economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe and reverse the unequal land ownership system, the Government embarked on a Land Reform and resettlement programme that resulted in more than 400 000 families being allocated land. Many young people benefited from this successful programme. The nation is beginning to see the positive results of the programme with increases in production such as in tobacco.
Furthermore, young people are set to benefit from the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Regulations that the Government of Zimbabwe has put in place. In terms of the Regulations, indigenous people must own at least 51% shareholding of any company operating in Zimbabwe. This indigenization programme thus has created opportunities for young people to take ownership and enter such sectors as mining, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. This programme will also go a long way in addressing the problems of youth unemployment and under employment. Zimbabwe has vast mineral resources which must be used for the benefit of its young people.
Following the establishment of the Government of national Unity, young people of different political persuasions are now working together under the umbrella of the National Youth Council. Through the Youth Council, youth are afforded the opportunity to participate through such forums as the Children`s Parliament and Junior Councils.
To enhance access to finance, the Government established the Youth Development Fund through which young people are able to access soft loans to support their projects. The Funds are accessed through participating banks.
Skills training is a critical component of the government`s youth development and employment creation programme. Through the vocational skills training centres and the community based Integrated Skills Outreach Programme (ISOP), many young people are accorded the opportunity to acquire technical skills to enable them to start their own projects and thus create employment for themselves and others. The Government supports these young entrepreneurs to acquire the basic start-up kits through the Youth Development Fund.
To facilitate a more coordinated approach to youth development efforts as well as to ensure that the current youth needs are addressed, the current National Youth Policy is being reviewed. All stakeholders including young people themselves will be engaged in this process. In addition, the National Employment Policy has been developed.
Young people must be considered as assets and strategic partners in national development. They must be placed at the centre of socio-economic development strategies and they must be allowed to determine their own destiny for, as the young people themselves often say`, ``anything for them without them is against them``. Governments must thus create opportunities for young people to participate meaningfully in the social, political and economic development of their communities and nations by creating and putting in place the necessary enabling conditions, policies and legislative framework.
Developing nations must open up their massive resources for the benefit of their youths for it is the young people who are the engine of growth. Fellow ministers, we must design strategies that place the youth as the solution to the development problems countries are facing.
Development Partners and the Private sector must complement governments `efforts by channeling more resources towards supporting youth development programmes especially in the African continent. They should not ´´think for us´´. Undermining governments is counterproductive. They should not provide funding to youths to work against their governments.
Hon S Kasukuwere (M.P)
Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment