An interview with Wellington Zindove, the Youth Forum Zimbabwe Coordinator
When was Youth Forum Zimbabwe formed?
The Youth Forum Zimbabwe was established in 2004 by a group of young people who felt that there was need for them to fight for a free, fair and inclusive political space in Zimbabwe.
What led to the decision to start the organization?
I think if you remember well around 1999 up to 2004 that is when, as a country, we started to experience serious problems relating to our politics. That is when we saw the emergence of political opposition parties and it was also the same time we felt as young people we were being excluded from mainstream political and economic processes. So Youth Forum Zimbabwe was formed as a response to the gap that was there between young people and decision-making at policy and political level.
Who plays the leading role in the Youth Forum?
Our members play the leading role. We are a membership-based organisation, we have members who are located in several provinces across the country and these include individuals and community based organisations. These are the people who form a Youth Forum democratic structure, which means we have representation at district, provincial and national level. These young people then elect their national leadership, which is called the national executive that forms the board that leads the organisation.
Tell us about your vision?
Our vision is to see young people empowered to fully participate in social, economic and political processes in the country. We understand, as an organisation, that political participation in our context opens all the other avenues for economic and social opportunities.
What kind of programmes are you currently implementing?
We are robustly working on building our grassroots structures for effective mobilization and participation. So by this we are giving young people political orientation highlighting the importance of the youth’s participation in turning around the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. We are also strengthening the youth voice in governance through creating platforms of interaction between the government architecture, parliament and bureaucrats, for them to be able to have a clear understanding of the policy formulation processes and how they can influence it.
We are also very much involved in terms of trying to make young people set the agenda in the media. We realised that issues to do with youths are not really understood at various levels, be it at government or in parliament, so we are trying to engage young people to be active through various forms of media, be it social media, our newsletter and to a greater extent the mainstream media. In the light of the new constitution we are also trying to increase the literacy of young people regarding their civic, social and economic rights as enshrined in the constitution. Lastly, we have youth capacity building and empowerment as a response to the economic situation of young people. We are building youth’s capacity so that they come up with viable and bankable project proposals.
Share some of your highlights with us
Our jobs campaign has made a significant impact on our work in terms of bringing on board the policymakers. We are also working with the private sector and building partnerships to try and knock sense into the government for them to prioritise their expenditure and focus on resuscitating local industries. Our local community advocacy processes program where young people identify issues in their communities they would want to work on, be it teenage pregnancies or politicisation of aid, has created a platform for engagement with stakeholders for deliberations with a view to redress and recourse.
Are you fulfilled with your work?
Not really! The environment is not complementary to our work. Issues of security, surveillance and also the regulation being done by the Zimbabwe Youth Council hinder the advancement of our work.