CHIEF Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says she has heard a lot of arguments to the effect that some youth representatives are grandfathers.

Meanwhile, some youth entrepreneurs in Lusaka have asked government to end corruption and exercise equality and fairness when giving empowerment projects.

Speaking at a meeting held with the youths at her office in Lusaka, Wednesday, Siliya, the information and broadcasting services minister, said some people who claimed to be youth representatives were said to be grandfathers.

“What is popular now is that young people want to be heard. We want to hear really that across these issues of young people, what are the common issues? How would you want to be represented? [We want] to be sure how you would want to be represented because we want to be sure what voice are we hearing? While you are here, what are the other youths saying? And also that you are not misrepresented. I heard an argument yesterday (Tuesday) that some of the people who are saying that they are representing you are grandfathers. That is why I called you here. Are you well represented? My job here is to ensure that the president hears the issues that are topical among young people,” Siliya said when opening the meeting.

A youth identified as Mirriam Ngoyi then lamented about the alleged corruption involved when employing young people in government.

“Most of the graduates don’t have jobs, and when applying for a job, you are required to pay something for someone to push for you. Corruption is too much. I think there is need to work on corruption. And there should be transparency when jobs are advertised. Imagine if you have just graduated as a teacher and you apply for a job, you will be told to pay something for someone to push for you. You don’t have a job and then they are asking for money…where are you going to find that money? Sometimes they do ask for sex and for us females, we are very vulnerable to that aspect,” Ngoyi said.

Another youth, Joseph Kasama from Youths In Farming Multi-purpose Co-operative Society, appealed for equality and fairness in accessing government ministries.

“The only thing we want is for government to give us access to all ministries, just like the way Ministry of Livestock has been doing where they are helping us meet with big companies. Youths don’t have knowledge on how to win contracts from the government. A few of those who know how to go about it boast to those who don’t know, thereby making those who don’t know to start protesting on the streets. We need fairness and equality,” said Kasama.

Mubanga Vwalika asked government to provide the youth with a platform to showcase their skills.

“Many of us here in Zambia are really skilled and talented…we don’t have to wait for government to start doing something. We need a platform where we can share our successes and our failures as well. There are so many people who are doing great things but they have nowhere to show it. Once that platform is created, that is when things are going to start happening. We can have opportunities to find funders for the projects that we are doing,” said Vwalika.

And Sera Kunda said her concern was the lack of a proper information platform to educate youths on procedures involved when starting businesses.

“My appeal is for the government to create an information platform. For example, if I want to go into a food processing business, I don’t know who to go to, I don’t know what regulations I need to meet, I don’t know what permits I need, where do I register my products? Such kind of information will help us entrepreneurs. It is better to get the correct information from the onset rather than meeting up with ZABS after my product has already been produced,” said Kunda.

Meanwhile, Mulenga Mwaba also appealed to government to empower the youths with projects rather than dishing out money to them.

“My biggest cry is in skills development. I am a carpenter. I would like government to empower youths in taking up skills like mine. Give us projects. Don’t give us money, all we need are the projects, through those projects, then we can develop. Carpentry, if you are just in the community, has got no money,” said Mwaba.

And Siliya assured the youths that it would be the responsibility of government to create such similar discussions for youths to engage each other.

“Clearly, government concedes that we should have had more and more engagements as such so that we can hear each other. When we hear that youths are protesting, sometimes we get confused [and ask], where has the communication gone wrong? And as a ministry, we have to take responsibility that as government, we have to try and create a platform where we can celebrate the young people of Zambia. When you go on social media, I understand how you feel because it feels as if there is no hope,” said Siliya.