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Lungu’s youth empowerment package questioned

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Operation Young Vote (OYV) has questioned President Edgar Lungu’s K470 multi-million youth empowerment fund launched recently saying is a drop in the ocean for the country’s youths constituting the majority of the population.

The organisation says the amount has no long term impact and is similar to a handout and not empowerment.

In a press statement issued to the media, OYV implied that the amount falls short of meeting the benchmark to be classified as sustainable empowerment programme and as such, has no long term impact.

OYV said a critical look at the fund details, some might conclude that the fund is meant to silence the young people who have of late been vocal demanding an end to corruption and their freedom of expression rights.

Below is the full statement

22ND AUGUST, 2020: STATEMENT BY OYV ON THE K470 MILLION MULTI SECTORAL YOUTH EMPOWERMENT FUND LAUNCHED BY PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU A WEEK AGO

After thorough scrutiny and analysis of the K470 multi-million youth empowerment fund launched by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu in Ndola on 15th August 2020, we at OYV have found it prudent and inevitable to note that the initiative falls short of meeting the benchmark to be classified as sustainable empowerment programme that has long term impact.

The question we have is: What would stop members of the general public and citizens from holding an opinion that this initiative is not only meant to silence the young people on the demand for their freedom of expression and other vividly denied rights, or from thinking that it is also a ploy to gain back the support of Young People whose confidence has drastically dwindled in the current Government by hoodwinking them into believing that they are being cared for?

Especially with bare facts that:

Exactly 5 years ago, in August – President Edgar Chagwa Lungu launched the 2015 National Youth Policy and its National Plan of Action, including the National Action Plan for Youth Empowerment and Employment, which we at OYV admit are very great, powerful, progressive and well-articulated documents which were produced at very huge costs by this same regime ignoring them with impunity.

Also that it is very evident that very little to nothing has been done all the 5 years to implement viable and sustainable youth empowerment as espoused in these documents.

Today on the horizon of the 2021 elections, Millions of money which could have steadily but surely been poured into the structures articulated for youth empowerment in the documents mentioned above to yield not only sustainable but also accountable results.

What will convince the Young people that they are at the heart of our Governments agenda? We have said time and again that cosmetic and tokenism attendance to Youth matters is not only dangerous to a regimes gripe to power but it is also risky to the nation’s political and economic sustenance and stability.

The launched K470 Million Youth Empowerment Fund has no link whatsoever to the overall objectives let alone the key strategies our Government pledged to follow as contained in the2015 National Youth Policy and its National Plan of Action, including the National Action Plan for Youth Empowerment and Employment. Such initiatives that have no structural anchorage have been tried before by this very Government and have lamentably failed.

It is perturbing that most if not all that have been considered as beneficiaries of such funds in the past were affiliated to the ruling Patriotic Front or its sympathizers. It was basically on patronage. What is the difference with this K470 million especially that we are heading into elections very soon?

We have in the recent past witnessed failure to pay back. We have witnessed the laments of President Lungu on Youth failing to pay back millions and millions of kwacha. Moreover we are also concerned about the source and budget line in the 2020 National Budget or Supplementary Budget if any, including its accountability.

Further this money seen large at face value when it’s actually a drop in an ocean factoring in the target number of 1500 Youth. It falls far below the JCTR Monthly Basket especially when compared with the set standard set by the Minister in this Government of K2 Million being change from a shopping spree.

Giving the Young People money in an environment not favourable for business in cheap. Even if all the money in the world was given to the Young People of Zambia, the results would be failure, not because they cannot make it, no, but because the cost of doing business is to huge. The long and unending hours of loadshedding, high electricity tariffs, competition with Chinese who have all the capital.

As Operation Young Vote we would like to advise as follows:

That those charged with the mandate and responsibility to oversee this Fund get back to the drawing board and employ the dictates of the National Youth Policy and other documents alluded to above.

AS a country we need measures that will target at mitigating the gaps and challenges, strengthening the existing interventions, maintaining and adopting best practices, discarding interventions that have not worked such as handouts (as promoted by most politically induced initiatives), enabling the environment and enhancing access to and quality of services, extending coverage and increasing impact.

Further, as a means of achieving empowerment for the Zambian youth, the heterogynous target groups within the Youth Cohort highlighted in the National Youth Policy coupled with the key interventions that provide for holistic and meaningful development of the Youth be followed religiously.

If indeed this Government has realised that Zambia’s youthful demographic variable presents an opportunity for national development through harnessing the potential that youth have, as espoused in the 2015 National Youth Policy that the President launched exactly 5 years ago, it would have known that the kind of approach being fronted through the launch of the K470 Million Youth Empowerment was off tangent as it had detoured from the intent and purpose articulated in the 2015 National Youth Policy and its National Plan of Action, including the National Action Plan for Youth Empowerment and Employment produced at very high cost by this very Government.

For and on Behalf of Operation Young Vote (OYV)
Guess Nyirenda (Mr)
Executive Director

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