- Last Updated on 22 March 2013
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THE Statutory Instrument SI4/2013 which was drawn by the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment in 2013, could fall like an axe upon youth organisations in the country without a warning, youth leaders said on Thursday March 21, 2013 in Harare.
The discussion which was organised and attended by youth leaders drawn from civil society organisations which work with young people sounded alarm bells about the SI which purportedly seeks to regulate the work of the youth formations in Zimbabwe. The youth leaders also complained about exclusion during the crafting of the Instrument.
According to the SI, youth organisations which have not complied are operating illegally since the beginning of March.
"The Statutory Instrument makes our registration as Private Voluntary Organisations inadequate without registering with the Zimbabwe Youth Council. The Council will approve where funding should come from and require us to submit our work plans, € said Glanis Changare, the Director of Institute for Young Women Development.
Youth organisations are ill at ease after government started raiding non-governmental organisations (NGOs), following the Zanu-Pf conference resolution in Gweru held in December 2012, in which the party resolved to urge the government to shut down NGOs that are deemed to be deviating from their mandate.
The youths also castigated Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Assistant Commissioner, Innocent Matibiri for having appeared before Parliament with claims that the majority of NGOs were regime change agents because they are foreign-funded.
Liberman Bhebhe, Director General of National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), whose organisation was raided by police in 2013, warned of the motives behind the SI in the context of the continued harassment of NGOs.
Bhebhe said the law could be invoked to restrict the work of youth movements, which have an interest in the democratisation agenda ahead of the upcoming harmonised elections expected later in 2013.
"The targeting of youth organisations is not a mistake. There is a realisation that any meaningful transformation will be informed by young people because they are now the game changers. It follows in the spirit of the NGO Bill which was meant to make the operating environment difficult, € Bhebhe said.
The evident fear, as the youth leaders debated this imminent threat, was that non-compliance with the new "draconian legislation could be as dangerous as compliance. €
The moderator Valentine Maponga, a journalist revoked the memories of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) media stable which failed to comply with Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act(AIPPA) leading to its closure in 2003.
"On top of the requirements of POSA, which are already limiting in terms of organising our meetings the compliance with the statutory instrument will be an addition, € the NYDT Director said.
"I do not see that instrument affecting youth organisations linked to the state but those seeking democratic transformation, € said Bhebhe.
Director of the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ), Douglas Tigere added his weight to the dissenting voices.
"Ultimately the Statutory Instrument will make us bankrupt because we have to pay US$ 3.00 for each member we have. Our survival is now at the mercy of the Council and I do not think any youth would want to let the SI continue. €
Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD) Director Tichaona Masiyambiri, who is a former ZYC Board member, saw the SI as a fundraising gimmick by the Minister on behalf of the ZYC, which is viewed as his puppet organisation.
"ZYC wants to harvest from youth organisations over and above the registration fees that we pay to them. Some Zanu-PF aligned youth organisations are not happy as well. €
The overall sentiment was that, the Instrument could only be separated from the widespread blitzkrieg on NGOs deemed to be an electoral threat to the Zimbabwe National Union Patrotic Front (Zanu-PF) at the youth organisations' peril.
The SI was reportedly crafted without the input of the entire government as Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere took advantage of his ministerial prerogative to come up with such law and it is reported that the Parliamentary Legal Committee has since passed an adverse report on the SI.
The youth organisations want to approach the courts. The youth organisations are mooting the possibility of approaching the Senate and recommending that it adopts the adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee as a means of getting the SI repealed.