WHERE AS the Youth Consultative Forum (YCF) is a federation of youth organisations, groups, networks, coalitions, young professionals, young entrepreneurs, students, youth workers and other actors whose mandate is to advocate and promote meaningful youth participation through the strengthening of collective voice and action focusing on youth development, citizen empowerment and policy dialogue in Malawi, the forum resolved to hold an Extraordinary General Assembly of youth actors on Friday, 12th July 2013 at Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel to reflect on situation of youth development, share best practices and experiences, build capacity of youth actors and act on shared aspirations for the future.
BASED on the above resolve, YCF facilitated the Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA) whose theme was “Active Youth in Leadership and Development: The Future is now”. The EGA brought together a total of 146 youth delegates from youth organisations, networks, youth volunteer groups, student unions, civil society organisations, young entrepreneurs, young professionals, youth workers and officers, members of youth wings of political parties, and youth-led religious groups in attendance.
ANCHORED in thematic areas of Democracy, Governance, Development, Entrepreneurship and Youth Leadership as inspired by guest speakers and presenters, youth delegates discussed and generated issues and strategies for the furtherance of Youth Development Agenda in Malawi
AWARE that Malawi is a youthful country with 66% of her population under the age of 25 years with an alarming growth rate of 2.8 percent and that young people are facing a myriad of challenges such as unemployment, underemployment, limited access to education, skills and capital for entrepreneurship and employability, poor health and HIV and AIDS that undermine their rights and create significant social and economic costs to the society, yet they are valuable assets to the nation and investing in them brings tremendous social dividends.
CONCERNED that a multitude of youths are increasingly becoming susceptible to extreme levels of poverty along with inequality which is also very high and posing a significant threat to social cohesion, community and national development, peace and security. Such are increasingly resulting in exploitation, further marginalization, despondency, despair and deviancy among many young people which are spilling to rising crime as well as alcohol, drug and substance abuse.
NOTING that if adequate attention and investment is given to empower and develop young people so that they become educated, skilled, healthy, productive and responsible citizens of their country and the global village, this young population can be transformed into an opportunity for economic and social development.
DISAPPOINTED with the pace of development 49 years of independence against increasing demand for social services despite having enough resources to eradicate extreme poverty
CONVINCED that Malawi’s poverty and underdevelopment is to a larger extent, a product of abuse, misuse and underutilisation of available resources due to weak governance systems and lack of priority focus on productive areas of the economy,
COMMITTED to effectively contribute to nation building as our social responsibility as being guided by the motto of “Giving back to mother Malawi” based on collective values of patriotism, volunteerism, transparency, accountability, integrity, inclusiveness and self-less service to humanity.
Youth delegates to the EGA observed that:
1. Despite being in majority and with so much knowledge and expertise to modern technologies, processes and methods to be regarded as the biggest potential, youths do not inform or influence the formulation, implementation and monitoring of development policies that affect them and their respective communities.
2. Youth are not adequately represented in governance structures such as Village Development Committees, Area Development Committees, District Executive Committees, Programme committees, Parliament, a situation blocking effective mainstreaming of their voices and actions,
3. There is progress being registered in the review process of the National Youth Policy as evidenced by the validation meeting that took place at Capital Hotel on 12 July as organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
4. Performance of the successive National Budgets is below par due to poor implementation standards, corruption, unmet commitments and lack of citizen-led budget tracking and monitoring and that this is the major explanation of why Malawi, by far, lags behind in the development path,
5. Youth participation in political and governance processes such as elections has been weak and largely negative as youths have been used and dumped as agents of violence and intimidation by “political masters”,
6. The 2014 Tripartite elections provide the youth with an opportunity to help consolidate democracy and implement their aspirations for a better Malawi,
7. There is no clear age consideration on participation fees for young candidates as set by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) ahead of the 2014 tripartite elections and that only gender has been highlighted.
8. The MEC participation fees for male and female candidates particularly for Member of Parliament and Ward Councillor in the 2014 tripartite elections are too high for young candidates who are already disadvantaged by a number of factors including poverty and adult dominance on the political landscape.
9. Previous democratic elections failed to shape collective vision and implement the aspirations for the young people of Malawi due to lack of issue/policy-based political campaigns as compared to castigations and character assassination and that this affects the quality of vote cast resulting in voting patterns determined by tribalism, regionalism, religion and mere political patronage,
10. Youth actors (leaders, workers and organisations) are facing appalling capacity and governance issues due to inadequate resources, lack of skills and opportunities for networking and partnerships.
11. Access to funding by youth organisations and groups is too bureaucratic and preferential chocking growth of youth organisations and youth-led initiatives resulting in shrinking space for constructive and effective youth engagement in civic life and development work, while there are cases of de-committed funds from donors due to lack of absorption capacity within government departments which the youth can utilise.
Delegates to the Extraordinary General Assembly recommended:
12. That Government should follow the road map for the adoption of the Revised National Youth Policy targeting first week of August 2013 as agreed and committed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports at the validation meeting held on 12 July 2013 in Lilongwe,
13. That a capacity building programme for youth actors be supported to promote meaningful youth participation in policy dialogue and development work.
14. Improved and direct access to funding by youth actors to support youth-led engagement initiatives and outreach programmes that would contribute to skills and leadership development.
15. A 50:50 representation based on age in Parliamentary and local government elections in 2014
16. A 50 percent reduction of participation fees for young candidates as set by the Malawi Electoral Commission ahead of 2014 Tripartite elections.
17. That no youth and youth groups shall be used to perpetrate elections-related violence and intimidation against rival contenders and those stakeholders shall play according to the “rules of the game” guiding elections.
18. An issue/policy-based political campaign ahead of the 2014 Tripartite elections and that political contestants shall avoid castigations and character assassination
19. An improved performance of the National Budget and other development instruments to effectively respond rising needs of the nation as worsened by the rapid population growth rate of 2.8 percent
Delegates to the EGA resolved to:
20. Further engage government on the adoption and implementation of the revised National Youth Policy,
21. Run a Youth Campaign for meaningful youth participation and representation in the 2014 tripartite elections based on the recommended 50:50 representation.
22. Run a NO VOTE campaign against perpetrators of election-related violence and intimidation using young people based on proved and verified cases.
23. Participate in the implementation and tracking of the National Budget to improve performance, reduce wastage, combat corruption as a way of building a strong foundation for youth development in Malawi,
24. To engage government, the international community, funding institutions, political and governance actors, civil society, private sector, religious leaders, and other youth actors on the observations, recommendations and resolutions of the EGA.
Youth delegates committed to
25. Conduct a Voluntary Youth Service Week (VYSW) within 2013/2014 financial year as a social contribution in development and to nation building and as leadership mentorship programme.
26. Enhance networking and collaboration to strengthen collective voice and action
27. Unity, peace, hard work for the prosperity of the youth and the entire nation.
We the undersigned affirm that the above is a true representation of the discussions at the Extraordinary General Assembly as held on 12 July 2013, in Lilongwe:
Kondwani Kaunda, EGA Organizing Chairperson
Edward Chileka-Banda, YCF National Coordinator
Sitabene Majamanda, YCF Board Chairperson
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