Promoting Inclusive Governance”

… CYLAZ Championing inclusive youth representation in Zambia’s political Landscape

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (20-04-2024) – The Centre for Young Leaders in Africa, Zambia (CYLAZ), acknowledges the urgent need for inclusive mechanisms to amplify the voices of young people in our political systems.

Daniel Sichiongo, board chairperson at CYLAZ, informed journalists at a media briefing that despite efforts, youth remain underrepresented in decision-making processes due to outdated electoral policies and limited access to political platforms.

He stressed the urgency for electoral reforms and equitable representation, as outlined in the Youth Report, advocating for a mixed-member electoral system (MMES) to address underrepresentation. Currently, CYLAZ is collecting signatures for an inclusion petition urging its adoption.

To foster inclusive democracy, Sichiongo emphasized the importance of prioritizing legislation such as the Public Order Bill and the Political Parties Bill to enhance youth inclusion, stating that empowering youth in political processes is crucial for Zambia’s future prosperity.

He urged stakeholders to join in dismantling barriers to youth participation and nurturing a generation of capable leaders, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive Zambia.

Sichiongo also highlighted CYLAZ’s dedication to monitoring and analyzing youth engagement in Zambia’s political systems, emphasizing the critical need for inclusive mechanisms amplifying the voices of young people and facilitating their active participation.

According to Sichiongo, CYLAZ’s assessment identified several key areas for improvement, including implementing inclusive electoral policies, legislative frameworks, enhancing access to political platforms, increasing representation in decision-making forums, and providing greater resources and mentorship for aspiring young leaders.

“These findings were reinforced by the inaugural Status of Youth Report from Zambia, published in 2023, which emphasized the necessity for electoral reforms and more balanced representation,” he said.

Moreover, Sichiongo acknowledged the Zambian government’s efforts to promote inclusivity through initiatives such as the eighth national development plan and the recently launched National Youth Policy and Implementation Plan 2024.

“The President of the Republic has also underscored the importance of inclusion at various international and national forums, recognizing the significance of incorporating women, youth, and persons with disabilities into the political sphere,” he said.

To address the underrepresentation of marginalized groups, CYLAZ, alongside coalition partners, advocates for the adoption of a mixed-member electoral system (MMES) to rectify existing disparities and ensure a more inclusive democracy reflecting Zambia’s diverse demographic landscape.

“Despite challenges and misconceptions regarding youth engagement in governance, CYLAZ remains steadfast in fostering youth participation in politics through leadership training initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and partnership-building activities, empowering young leaders and connecting them with policymakers,” he said.

In pursuit of a more inclusive democracy, Sichiongo emphasized legislative reforms, including finalizing the Public Order Bill, reviewing and replacing outdated legislation such as the National Youth Development Council Act of 1986, and developing a comprehensive framework for the Political Parties Bill, crucial for creating an enabling environment encouraging youth engagement and leadership.

“As Zambia commemorates its 60th year of independence, CYLAZ calls upon all stakeholders, including government officials, political parties, civil society, and the media, to collaborate in dismantling barriers to youth participation and nurturing a generation of capable leaders, enhancing youth involvement in politics, and harnessing the full potential of Zambia’s diverse population for a prosperous and inclusive future,” he said.

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