YALI governance director Isaac Mwanza has urged youths to begin demanding from government for a declaration of what has been achieved from all pronouncements that have been made during Youth Day celebrations every year.
In an interview with News Diggers, Mwanza said there were a number of things that had been promised to the young people before but that those pledges were just repeated without being actualised.
Mwanza said President Edgar Lungu continued to speak passionately about the youth during his speeches to parliament but that nothing solid was coming out of his pronouncements.
“I think it is important that the young people begin to demand from government and their elected officials so that they can begin to fulfill what they promised them whenever they are in Parliament, whenever they are campaigning. Youths need to begin to demand that they fulfill that. At the same time I think that the youth need to be very realistic in terms of job creation. Young people must be demanding from the government to make a conducive environment, an atmosphere where entrepreneurship should be able to thrive. Looking up to government for formal employment always does not really develop a country. What we can do is to ask the government to ensure that they create an enabling environment for the youths,” Mwanza explained.
“For instance, the many taxes that are being introduced, how are they impacting on young people who are in business? Those are the things we should be able to discuss with our government. Every other young person must remember that youth day is an important day which must mark a day of national unity. We have heard government promise time and again that we are going to have many young people being represented in cabinet, in parliament and in the councils. But if you look at the numbers of young people who are participating in these portfolios, it leaves too much to be desired. So we demand that young people begin to address themselves with these questions and demanding from their leaders to fulfill what is being promised to them.”
Mwanza observed that youths were not being involved in finding the solution to the problems facing them.
“I think that these rhetoric will continue but what we need is to ensure that we can interact with these government officials and begin to help them also fulfill what they are promising to the youth. We must move away from just the talk to doing the walking. The consequences when the government does not fulfill its promise is that it makes young people very disoriented and disillusioned about their government and their leaders. So what we are merely asking is that whether its government or politicians, I think all politicians make so many promises to the youth but whenever they are given power, they forget everything they promised. The PF made a lot of promises, the MMD made a lot of promises but where have these promises taken us? The UPND are making these promises, there is no guarantee that even if they are given power in 2021 or 2026, they will be able to fulfill and do something from what their colleagues have done from UNIP time up to now,” he said.
“For instance right now we don’t have an operational National Youth Development Council, it has not been appointed. So who is making decisions on matters of the youth? It’s just the people that you have employed in the Ministry of Youth and Sport, so it’s quiet unfortunate that this talk will continue to be there. Even the people that organised this youth day commemoration, it’s the Ministry of Youth and Sport but how many young people are involved? Where is the national youth development council that should have been involved in organising these things? So what we are saying to government is that this is time to begin to engage young people in finding the solution to their own problems. If the young people are not being taken into consideration and they are not being given the attention they deserve, we are going to have a nation that will be full of people that are bitter.”
He further noted that failure by government to fulfill its promises to the people had forced young people to take their grievances to social media where they were insulting their leaders.
“We are not fulfilling what we have been promising to them. I think it’s important that any government that comes into place must fulfill what the young people are being promised because at this level, we can foresee that it will be a disaster because today youths no longer respect the elders. They take to social media, insult on these social media blogs, which is quite unfortunate. We shouldn’t have reached that stage,” said Mwanza.