The Chevening Alumni of Zambia has partnered with the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) on a project to encourage youth participation in democracy and governance.

Speaking during the signing ceremony at the British High Commission yesterday, SACCORD executive director Boniface Cheembe said he was pleased to partner with the Chevening Alumni executive on a project that would add value to Zambia’s democracy and governance.

“We would first and foremost like to thank the Chevening Alumni executive for having identified SACCORD as a partner to implement this important project dubbed ‘Youth in Democracy and Governance Public Debates.’ As an organization that has done a lot of work around democracy, governance and the youth since inception we look forward to participating in this project which we believe is timely and also important for Zambia. It is timely because Zambia and the various reports of political violence that have been reported have for the most part involved young people. It is important because the young people who are in tertiary institutions today will be our future ministers, parliamentarians, and presidents and it is therefore cardinal that we start inculcating a culture of democracy and governance at a very early stage especially the tertiary institutions,” Cheembe said.

Cheembe however said that as a country practicing democracy since the early 1990’s, it was important that democracy is nurtured so that it could be consolidated and ultimately be enjoyed by the people of Zambia.

“Most of Zambia’s population is made up of young people and these same young people are the future leaders of tomorrow. As Zambia seeks to make democracy a norm, it is important that deliberate measures are initiated that endeavor to target young people in tertiary institutions in Zambia. This project will go a long way in helping the future leaders of the nation appreciate the importance of democracy and governance from a tertiary level as they build their careers to be leaders of tomorrow,” Cheembe said.

He commended the Chevening Executive Alumni for having come up with such a good initiative.

“We take this opportunity to commend the Chevening Executive Alumni for having come up with such a great initiative. As SACCORD we stand ready to work with you in successfully implementing this project,” said Cheembe.

Meanwhile, one of the members of the Chevening Alumni Executive Brenda Mpande said, in an interview, that the Chevening Alumni was about giving back to the people of Zambia.

“The Chevening Alumni of Zambia is a committee of former scholarship recipients from the British High Commission to study in the UK. So when we come back, we are set up in a grouping and our aim is to give back to the Zambian society through various engagements and social activities. The foreign common wealth office in the UK on a yearly basis puts aside money projects for alumni across the world, on a competitive basis we have to put in a concept note and they grade it according to the other concept notes that have come up from across the continent from common wealth countries,” Mpande said.

“This year, we were awarded 5, 000 Pounds for our project for a concept to note on youths role in democracy and governance, so we thought we needed to partner with a good organization that is already engaged in democracy and governance issues, that’s how we sent out a filler to the different organizations country wide engaged in this and that’s how we shortlisted SACCORD to help us manage the project.”

She said the project aimed to hold debates in three districts with youths in tertiary education and there will be winner prizes.

“SACCORD will be managing the project on our behalf and the project aims to go and have three debates in Choma, Chipata, and Lusaka with youths in tertiary education so they will have a round of debates discussing their role and their future role in democracy and governance in Zambia and there will be winner prizes for the top two winners in each province and we also hope to have an institutional price for the institution that we feel is most in need from where the participants will be coming from. The first round of debates are in Chipata and in Choma in slated November 4, 2017 then we will have our Lusaka debate in January next year and that will be the close of the project. Through this project we are looking to at least engage with 5,000 youths through our blogging, advertisements, various interactions that we will have with tertiary institutions in the three districts,” said Mpande.