Wednesday, July 13, 2011

African Youths, Rise Up and Shine: PAYU Deputy President Tells AU

African youths, rise up and shine .

Sunday, 10 July 2011 15:56
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
Tendai Wenyika

NOT many Zimbabweans know Tendai Wenyika but this youthful girl, who is the deputy president of the Pan African Youth Union, lit up the little town of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea Thursday June 30 when she made a presentation that left many Heads of State and Government shaking their heads in disbelief during the 17th AU Summit whose theme was “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.

Even the Minister of Youth, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, was left a proud man.

Below is the speech that Tendai delivered with admirable confidence to thunderous applause from the delegates.

Ours was never a struggle fought in vain, but one that was premised on the spirit of human resilience and an unwavering determination for freedom and emancipation. When those who came before us laid down their vision for a free and emancipated Africa, they did so with passion and determination to ensure that freedom was achieved in their lifetime.

The youth of our continent led a spirited campaign and became the lifeblood of our heroic struggles. As we march forward, crafting a sustainable future for those that will come after us, we are committed to rise to the occasion and not be found wanting in the pursuit of the ideal of youth development and emancipation.

The theme of the 17th African Union Heads of State and Government Summit is “Accelerate Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development in Africa”. It is evident that the key factors that define the welfare of youth in Africa today range from skills development and enhancement to rural-urban migration matters.

It is thus a befitting theme, especially within the context of challenges. Such challenges include extreme youth poverty, gender inequality and discrimination. We are also faced with the critical need to improve and expand quality education and access, as well as to create decent employment opportunities. This should not only be for youth, but for Africans in general.

We should continue to know youth has always been a vital force in the development of societies. With natural creativity, will of change, transformation and strength, the struggle of youth for freedom, peace and social transformation, for the right to education, employment, democratic rights and peace has always had a significant role in the general struggle for a fair and peaceful world.

This is demonstrated by the past, but also by the present where big demonstrations of students, of young workers and of youngsters in general are a vanguard of resistance against exploitation, withdrawal of rights, imperialist plunder of resources, racism, colonialism, fascism, military interventions and war, and for the survival of the human being.

We are meeting here at the same time when imperialism dominates the world, in the framework of one of the deepest structural crises of the capitalist system, worsening the situation of the youth, which is very clear in the increasing number of young people unemployed as the profits of the big economic groups keep increasing, the number of people resisting increases everyday, in all countries, where the youth and people are victims of the imperialism and bravely resist, as well as in many countries under sanctions, blockades and occupation.

We are here at the same times when imperialist forces increase militarisation of the world, by implementing more military bases, by competing each other for markets and natural resources, increasing the firepower of armies and their budgets, developing high technology weapons, and devastate the environment and natural resources, Earth has become a more dangerous place for youth to live.

Youth should continue to call and keep calling for public, free, quality and democratic education, for the right to employment with full respect of labour rights, for democratic rights, for the right to democratic access to health, sport and culture, for the protection of the environment, for a decent life, for friendship, solidarity and peace among all peoples of the world.

We pledge our solidarity to the young people of countries under desperate circumstances such as the youth of Libya.

We call for an immediate cease- fire to end all the bloodshed and call for the withdrawal of the imperialist presence in the country who are there for their own selfish agendas.

We call for a negotiated settlement which must result in a unity government sensitive to the needs of the Libyan people.

We are also concerned with the recent actions of the International Criminal Court which have delegitimised the institution and rendered it an instrument of imperial aggression.

We call on heads of African states to demand the arrests of the likes of Obama, Cameron and Sakorzy who through their unprovoked war have violated the supreme tenants of the Nuremburg Principles and, a crime of all crimes.

We call on a suspension of all engagements with Nato and Africa must begin to strengthen its internal ties, security and trade mechanisms in order for it to prosper.

The youth of Africa is equally shameful of what happened in Cote d’Ivoire where the puppet of the West, United Nations and France lead a coup d’etat.

The Pan African Youth Union shows its grave concern on the ongoing abuse of human rights in Swaziland by the King.

We support the youth of Swaziland who are calling for free and fair elections and for the establishment of the constitutional monarchy with full democratic rights.

We call on the heads of state to urgently resolve the Western Sahara question.

This is an essential and necessary factor for a peaceful decolonisation of the last colony in Africa. All of us let’s denounce the human rights violations in the occupied territory of Western Sahara by the Moroccan military forces and ask for the immediate end of the campaign of terror and intimidation carried out by the Moroccan authorities against the defenceless civilians.

The youth of Africa will fight and defend our continent from within and outside forces of doom. We are saying within that a number of African countries who are serving in the crest of the West as puppets. Youth of Africa are losing patience with the status core of opening Africa for sale.

Each generation has to discover its mission, fulfil or betray it.

At the Windhoek meeting a number of recommendations emerged that would take the regional priorities and plans for youth development a significant step forward.

In an effort to speedily advance youth development, the meeting recognised the need to create and achieve better co-ordination and cohesion, as well as strengthen the capacity of youth development practitioners throughout the region.

Windhoek recommended the creation of a UN specialised agency for youth that would support and fund youth initiatives on the continent, African Youth Fund.

In an effort to bolster regional and continental efforts, structures such as the National Youth Councils, youth-run NGO, CBO, youth organisations and regional economic communities play a pivotal lobby and advocacy role which is driven by vigorous interaction with the young.

Three important aspects to youth development would be effectively achieved. These are, firstly that they would enable the member states to improve their planning, co-ordination and implementation of youth initiatives.

Secondly, the sharing of information and knowledge on progress made on youth development priorities within the region would be greatly improved.

The third aspect is that capacitation would contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for meaningful participation in politics and decision-making by youth in general.

Currently, youth development work is carried out by youth workers that are not appropriately and adequately trained and thus not skilled on youth development. Therefore in order to advance youth development, it is necessary that continental and regional youth forums, such as national youth councils, should be supported by a strong, skilled and competent youth worker force that operates at the grassroots level.

For this to take place, these youth workers must be given the opportunity for capacity building. A capacity building programme for youth workers must have within its curriculum the key tenets of the African Youth Charter. This is the reason why we call for the urgent professionalisation of youth work.

We cannot overemphasise the need to capacitate those working face-to-face, day-in-day-out with young people. And the practical support of the Pan African Youth Union in terms of resources which should continue to mobilise all youth organisation at national level in all our countries.

African youth must be assisted to take full advantage of the benefits and opportunities of globalisation. This includes the many and exciting benefits of communication technology, such as we have seen through social networking platforms.

In our region, this will include taking full advantage of the expansion of information communication technology infrastructure, through the fibre-optic cabling project, which has now reached Cape Town on the Atlantic coast.

Central to the development of the continent and young people, is that each of us respects and takes care of the environment and the natural resources therein. Opportunities abound for exploitation by young people in natural renewal energy production, resource beneficiation and environmental protection.

In the Decade of African Youth Development, it is therefore befitting that African youth be at the forefront of demonstrating how humanity can live in balance and tune with nature. In fact, the green economy provides a perfect opportunity for youth to be entrepreneurial and highly innovative.

However, we must recognise that we have the responsibility to create an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship and innovation amongst African youth. This will mean that we must address the fundamental barriers such as lack of access to capital and business skills and the lack of protection of property and intellectual rights. Addressing such would unleash Africa’s creative and innovative potential to deal effectively Africa’s challenges by Africans!

The World Programme of Action on Youth would be better achieved by strengthened and capacitated youth workers, structures, platforms and institutional arrangements.

Better co-ordination and capacitation of these structures would greatly benefit the efforts contained in the World Programme of Action on Youth.

If we are to do this effectively, it also means that member states should align youth-related development programmes, public and private sector alike, with the targets contained in the African Youth Decade Plan of Action dated 2009 to 2018. Additionally, it is also important to remind this sitting about the need to adequately fund the African Youth Programme of Action and its related opportunities. The monitoring and evaluation mechanisms also called for by the Windhoek meeting would be enhanced.

Youth workers must monitor and evaluate their efforts, as should all formal structures, in order to understand the extent to which final declarations are successfully implemented.

The 2008 World Programme of Action on Youth clearly identifies young people as representing agents, beneficiaries and victims of major societal changes that are generally confronted by a paradox: to seek to be integrated into an existing order or to serve as a force to transform that order.

In Africa we must recognise that immense strides have been made, however, much remains to be done. Perhaps it is time for African youth to champion efforts to transform the existing world order!

Let us all rally behind these efforts and assist our youth and Africa to overcome the challenges we face. Young people of Africa are taking up the responsibility of building Africa!

I thank you

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