Poor service delivery has always been considered a legacy of poor governance and lack of youth participation in Zimbabwe.
However, 41 years into our independence, many local municipalities are still battling with service delivery backlogs.
These backlogs have often been attributed to, for example, dysfunctional ward development committees, corruption amongst councillors, exclusion of community members in the planning process especially youth, failure to prioritise community needs, and institutional capacity issues.
These challenges have undermined municipalities’ provision of quality service delivery and have precipitated service delivery disgruntlement among residents.
However, Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) and Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT) held a service delivery conference in Gwanda aimed to increase youth participation in local governance at a time were, lack of collaboration and coordination continue to affect the engagement or re-engagement efforts by the youths, residents associations and women.
CYDT Director, Sichasisile Ndlovu said youths these days expect more transparent, accountability and responsive services from the public sector and these expectations have seen an increased appetite for youth and residents involvement.
“There was a time when councillors and Member of Parliament (MP)s said we will not listen to youths because you are divided. But now youths, residents associations are beginning to come together to achieve one goal. That is transparency and accountability of local councils to improve service delivery.
GRRA Executive Director, Cornilia Selipiwe stated that, youths need to know what they need in the community as well as actively participate in politics.
“The issue is, if youth don’t know what they want and do not participate in politics of the country, they are doomed. Because in politics that’s where you are able to influence policy decision making to suite what resonates with your needs.
“Youths can totally change the political landscape of the country if they participate in politics in their majority. Which can breed more independent candidates be, councillors, MPs and Senators,” said Selipiwe.
Councillor for Gwanda Town, Thulani Moyo hinted that, majority of youths do not want to actively participate in local governance processes due to a number of factors.
“Youths do not want to participate in politics that affect their bread and butter. Majority of them don’t. Maybe it’s because of fear, partisan politics, drugs or unemployment, we don’t but the truth is they don’t actively participate.
“We call ward meetings, and they don’t come to air their views,” he said.
Meanwhile, Youth Expert, Sakhi Ncube stated that, young people’s active and meaningful participation in their societies and in democratic practices and processes is of crucial importance.
“Meaningful youth participation and leadership require that young people and young people-led organizations have opportunities, capacities, and benefit from an enabling environment and relevant evidence based programmes and policies at all levels.
It is young people’s right to participate and be included in democratic processes and practices is also vital to ensure the achievement of locally agreed development goals and to refresh the youth development agenda,” he said.