|Honourable S. Kasukuwere- South Korea|
Your Excellency, the Chairperson of the World Youth Forum
Your Excellencies Ministers in Charge of Youth here present
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to begin by expressing my gratitude to the hosts who invited us and to thank you for the hospitality your country has shown us this far. Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and pleasure to address this gathering of World Ministers responsible for youth development at a very critical juncture in the development of our youth globally.
This meeting which is being held under the theme, ‘Aimlessly drifting youths: their minds and Actions’, comes at a time when many countries in the world are still trying to recover from an economic recession whose effects will surely be felt beyond this year. At the same time the world has witnessed collective youth action in direct response to mounting economic and political pressures wherein they are the greatest number of victims. The message is clear – there is need for decisive and courageous leadership to address the issues head on. Leadership that continues to exclude the youth from participating and driving the civic, social and economic agenda’s of our nations can only do so at their own peril.
Unless measures are taken to meaningfully empower youth to take central role in the socio-economic development of their countries, they may be a source of social, economic and political instability. Our government views young people as an asset for national development and national cohesion as opposed to an expense or a liability. This perception of young people as an asset is a result of the role played by the Zimbabwean youth of 1960 to 1979 who liberated our country through a protracted armed struggle were young people sacrificed all for the independence of our motherland hence the enormous respect accorded to the youth in my country today.
The Government has therefore created a specific Ministry responsible for youth development in Zimbabwe whose broad mandate is to spearhead the formulation and implementation of youth development policies that strive to empower the youth to be self employed and to support their families while at the same time building our country.
The life blood of any country’s development lies in the participation of the youth which in itself underscores the essence of youth development. Youth participation must necessarily be cross cutting covering participation.
Zimbabwe has gone further to expose our youth to participation at regional and international levels through the government sponsored participation to the World Assembly for Youth (WAY) which is based in Melaka Malaysia. My country held the position of Secretary General to that body for eight years.
Our youth also participate at the African Union level through the Pan African Youth Union, (PYU), where our young Zimbabwean youth ambassador is the incumbent Deputy Secretary General, linking back to the youth in Zimbabwe through the National Youth Council.
Our national youth platform for the representation and participation of our youths, the Zimbabwe Youth Council, has membership of over 400 youth organisations and is entirely led by young people below the age of 35 in compliance with our National Youth Policy and the African Youth Charter. It is a platform for cross cutting participation and representation by the youth from diverse backgrounds. Government will steadily increase its support to this youth body as our economy continues to recover.
Zimbabwe respects its international commitments to the development of young people. This is evidenced by the ratification and implementation of the African Youth Charter which is a continental instrument that provides for youth development and participation. My country therefore takes opportunity to review its progress vis a vis other countries in the implementation of these instruments by participating in regional and international forums relating to the youth. Zimbabwe therefore participated in the World Youth Forum in Mexico in August 2010 as well as the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth held in New York in 2011. Our Head of State also participated, with the full support of the youth, at the African Union Summit on Youth held in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in July 2011.
The Government of Zimbabwe has made an unambiguous commitment to indigenise the economy. In the process of indigenisation we have acquired shares on behalf of the youth in some companies, which shares have allowed us to create more financial resources for young people’s businesses. The youth are thus part our primary beneficiaries of indigenisation, both young men and women.
Youth Leadership Development is yet another priority of our government. One of the programmes for youth leadership development in my country is the Junior Parliament programme being implemented by my Ministry through the Zimbabwe Youth Council. This programme targets essentially youth in high schools where they are exposed and given an opportunity to freely and constructively debate, deliberate and make recommendations directly to policy makers through a parliamentary approach. This allows our young people to critic society and government in a constructive and open manner. Further, the young people who participate in this programme are also involved in various community based projects in the constituencies they represent. In this way our young people are kept active and urged to put their energies towards noble activities that immensely benefit their communities and the country at large.
Skills Development is yet another priority in our National Youth Policy. My country has established at least 45 Vocational Training Centres for training young people on life skills. The Vocational Training Centres are a hub of the Integrated Skills Outreach Programme which reaches out to communities imparting livelihood skills to the youth. Zimbabwe boasts of a highly literate young generation that in our continent is second to none according to the UNDP Africa office. As a result of our skills development programmes, Zimbabwe managed to export its skilled young people to Southern African countries like South Africa, Zambia and Botswana and even to European and Asia over the past years. This goes to show how skilled and versatile the young people of Zimbabwe are. This has been made possible by various empowering initiatives of the government of Zimbabwe for its young people.
Youth development cannot be complete without the component of economic empowerment of the youth. Zimbabwe is currently implementing the indigenisation and empowerment programme and the starting point has been youth led projects. More and more economic empowerment initiatives for young people are being brokered through public and private partnerships and this has witnessed structural, financial and material support being provided to young entrepreneurs. Zimbabwean young people are fast moving from employment seekers to employment creators through these initiatives.
Lastly for young people to effectively contribute, participate and own development in any country there is need for systems to be put in place to ensure they fully contribute to same. Zimbabwe has developed the National Youth Service which is a programme designed to built a sense of patriotism, direction and democracy in our youths.
Mr Chair as I round up, let me underscore the point that the youth possess vast resources of energy and this energy must be tapped and put to good use for the development of all our countries.
The challenges facing our youth are not entirely varied across our borders though our approaches to addressing them may differ from country to country. Let us therefore use platforms such as this one to share our experiences and to exchange information as we seek to promote the development of our young people.
The future vests in our young people.
I thank you.