By David Chishimba.
This article outlines
- Major government committees are involved in planning and coordinating the development of the country and the legal frameworks establishing these committees.
- How young people have been left out in these important decision making government committees and what can be done to include them.
- Advantages and disadvantages of including or excluding youths in the governance of the country respectively.
“Show me anyone saying that the government has been inclusive of young people in it’s decision making bodies, committees and processes and I will show you a liar.”
Changing the lives of young people needs serious political will because there is a need for a thorough surgical process that needs to start at changing the legal framework to create a legal environment that supports and advances the interests of young people, reviews and modernizes archaic policies and then reconcile and embed all youth programs on amended laws and reviewed policies. Young people’s lives will not be changed simply because there’s a certain president, Minister, Mayor, Member of Parliament, District Commissioner or councillor, there is a need to form a well-structured system through which programs and packages are meant to change the lives of young people can be delivered.
This system should have a deliberate inclusion of young people in the governance of the country at all levels. A well-structured framework of Youth Development Coordinating Committees should be created at ward, constituency, district, a provincial and national levels which should be coordinated with relevant government development coordinating systems.
The inclusion of young people in the governance of the county is supposed to be a right and therefore a legal responsibility and obligation of the government. We need to understand that having a constant favourable environment where voices of youths are heard is dependent on good legislation and not in good speeches about youths, themes at events or the goodwill of the government.
Only when we understand that good programs come from good policies and good policies come from good legislation, right exactly in this order, will we make long term tangible progress for the youths which will stand the test of time and which will benefit not only youths in this generation but youths in generations to come. Therefore we need to know and understand that any political promise which is not supported by or backed by the creation of a law or policy is trickery, deception or a hoodwink.
As far as the governance of Zambia and the inclusion of young people at all levels is concerned, there are four very important pieces of legislation that need to be looked into. These are:
- Ward Level
- Constituency Level
- District, Provincial and National Level
Without deliberate amendment and harmonization of the above acts to include young people, there can be no meaningful inclusion of young people in the governance of the country.
It is possible to create youth structures that can coordinate with government structures at all levels of governance by only amending the National Planning and Budgeting Act, it’s also possible to just amend the NYDC Act but the inclusion of these structures into government development committees at the ward, constituency, district and national level will need the amendment of laws which establishes government structures at these levels in order to include clauses linking created structures to government committees. In essence, there is a need to overhaul legislation establishing major government committees to include young people in the management of the country.
1. Ward Level
The Local Government Act Number 2 of 2019
The local government Act provides for the establishment, composition and functions of the local government at the National, provincial, district and ward level. Part 5 section 36 and the Fourth Schedule of the act provide for the establishment, composition and functions of the Ward Development Committee (WDC). The WDC is one of the most inclusive committees as far as the governance of the country is concerned. According to section 36(1), there is a representation for people with disabilities, gender focal point person, marginalized groups and youth, sports and recreation representatives. If all bodies, institutions and levels of government that require representation adopted this nature of inclusion, our country would have been one of the most inclusive governments.
The reason for the proposal of the amendment of this act is to provide for the establishment, composition and functions of the Ward Youth Development Coordinating Committee (WYDCC). The WYDCC is where a representative of youth, sport and recreation will come from as an ex officio member of the WDC. The WYDCC will coordinate with the WDC, it will also advise the WDC on youth programs, implement programs and coordinate youth activities within a ward.
The absence of WYDCC has led to the non-development of youth leadership programs and weak coordination of activities inwards.
2. Constituency Level
The Constituency Development Fund Act Number 11 of 2018
The CDF Act provides for the establishment, composition and functions of the CDF committee. The CDF committee provides for the management, disbursement, utilisation and accountability of the Constituency Development Fund established under the Constitution.
It is commendable that the government has reserved 10% of the CDF fund for the empowerment of young people. However, the challenge is that the CDF committee which, among other roles, decides on the fate of young people’s business proposals has no youth representation safeguarding the interests of youths.
According to the Constituency Development Fund Act Section 5(2), the CDF Committee consists of the following; the member of Parliament in the constituency, two community representatives, 3 councillors, a maximum of two chiefs, officers from the local authority, a representative of a civil society organisation operating in the constituency and a representative of a religious organisation.
The CDF Act does not provide for the inclusion of a youth representative. The Act must be amended to provide for the inclusion of a youth representative and the establishment, composition and functions of the Constituency Youth Development Coordinating Committee (CYDCC). The CYDCC committee is where a youth representative in the CDF committee will be coming from. This will ensure the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes at the constituency level.
The challenge of not having a CYDCC graduate from ward to constituency level. There is not proper planning, development and continuation of youth lead programs in constituencies. This is why there is a lot of disorganization of young people even with regards to well-intended projects for the youths when they are provided by the government. There is urgent need for the creation of the CYDCC.
3. District, Provincial And National Level
The National Planning And Budgeting Act Number 1 Of 2020 And The National Youth Development Council Act Chapter 144, Act Number 13 Of 1994
The National Planning and Budgeting Act is of cardinal importance, this is because the structures established in the National Planning and Budgeting Act are responsible for implementing an integrated national planning and budgeting process, strengthened accountability, oversight and participation mechanisms in the national planning and budgeting process, principles and modalities for the formulation, approval, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of long and medium-term national, provincial and district development plans and budgets, coordination of national development plans with the National Planning Framework, a participatory and decentralised national planning and budgeting process which promotes the participation of state and non-state actors in the planning and budgeting process, evidence-based decision making in national planning and budgeting and enhanced budget credibility.
These outlined functions are carried out by the National, Provincial and District Development Coordinating Committees. The non-inclusion of youths in these committees is against the promises which the government has been making to youths since 1964.
(i) District Level
The ministry of youths and the NYDC do not have offices or officers at District level at the moment. The District Development Coordinating committee coordinates all developmental activities in the district(DDCC).
Section 10 provides for the establishment and composition of the District Development Coordinating Committee. The DDCC consists of the District Commissioner, The Town clerk, government officers from lined ministries operating in the district, a representative from civil society, a faith-based organisation, a parastatal and the private sector. Unfortunately, there is no youth, representation at the district level.
Due to this fact, the secretary to the Cabinet who is also the Vice-chairperson to the National Development Coordinating Committee saw the need to create the District Youth Development Coordinating Committee (DYDCC) which is supposed to operate under the DDCC to oversee the interests of young people in districts.
During the MMD government, the Secretary to the Cabinet released a directive prompting all Provincial Permanent Secretaries to direct all District Commissioners to oversee the creation of District Youth Development Coordinating Committees(DYDCCs). This mandate was reiterated again in 2014 by the office of the Secretary to the Cabinet which lead to the recreation of DYDCCs in districts across the country.
The reason why DYDCCs are non-existent in most districts despite this directive is that the problem was that these offices were partisan, they worked with the ruling party instead of only working with the government. So whenever a ruling party was removed from power, these structures were also scraped off because they were not embedded in the constitution. Most DYDCCs couldn’t continue operating because there was no handover and continuation of the office.
One of the main reasons which have prompted the proposal for the amendment of the National Planning and Budgeting Act is that the recreation or revamping of District Youth Development Coordinating Committees (DYDCC) has been challenging. To recreate DYDCCs we have to retrieve the letter from government archives which District Commissioners and Provincial officers can Act on. These are archives that lose documentation even a week after filing. Up to date, we haven’t had luck with finding the letter.
The role of the DYDCC is to coordinate youth activities in the district, and coordinate with the DDCC and also the provincial office under the ministry of youths. Had the directive to create DYDCCs been backed by the amendment of the National Planning and Budgeting Act to include DYDCCs, there could have been a continuation of a vibrant network of young people across the country.
ii) Provincial Level
Section 7 of the National Planning and Budgeting Act provides for the establishment and composition of the Provincial Development Coordinating Committee. It is composed of the Provincial minister, government officers and a representative from civil society, a faith-based organisation, a parastatal and the private sector, and Members of Parliament in the province.
A Provincial Youth Development Coordinating Committee(PYDCC) needs to be established either under The National Planning and Budgeting Act or The National Youth Development Council Act utilizing Section 8(2) which states that The NYDC shall have provincial committees. A youth representative in the PDCC shall come from the PYDCC.
III) National Level
Section 4 of the National Planning and Budgeting Act provides for the establishment and composition of the National Development Coordinating Committee. The National Development Coordinating Committee consists of the minister and government officers from various ministries, institutions and agencies. It also consists of three representatives from the private sector; and a representative each from civil society, a faith-based organisation, and a parastatal but there is no youth representative.
At the national level, there’s a need for the National Development Coordinating Committee to have a representative from the NYDC to represent the interests of young people at the national level of planning.
Youth Development Coordinating Committees must be created at all levels of governance. This will inculcate and culture a spirit of ownership and commitment to the government’s developmental agenda by youths across the country unlike making decisions and creating programs in isolation and expecting unrelenting commitment from youths.
These committees will brainstorm and suggest youth programs to be implemented, policies to be reviewed coordinate with government offices and institutions at all levels of governance to ensure that government programs are implemented and the government agenda about youths is fulfilled. They will also act as conduits for information delivery to youths anywhere in the country and curb the challenge of information breakdown which has existed between the youths and government for a long time.
Otherwise, if this is not done, the government risks not having a significant impact on young people despite having robust programs meant for the youths.
The Author is Association of Unemployed Youths president.