Youth participation structures in Zimbabwe: A lens into the experiences of rural youth within WADCOs and VIDCOs.
Year: 2019 Working paper number: 440 Author: Tafadzwa Macheka and Sikanyiso Masuku Unit: CSSR Abstract:
Although the African Youth Charter emphasizes the role of the youth as ‘partners, assets and prerequisites for sustainable development’, there remains an existential marginalisation of youth from the policy making and governance structures. In an attempt to operationalise inclusivity, predominantly rural Zimbabwe (as the case with most African states) has ensured decentralisation through equitable youth participation (regulated by the Rural District Councils Act and the Traditional Leaders Act). The effectiveness of such frameworks and institutions in facilitating for the full participation of youth in policy making and governance however, has not been interrogated. In doing so, this study examined the degree of child and youth involvement in Village Development Committees (VIDCOs) and Ward Development Committees (WADCOs). This involved a case study-based exploratory inquiry of Ward 12 Masvingo where three FGDs were held with youth as well as four in-depth interviews with civil society representatives and youth ward coordinators. In concurrence with other studies that argue that rural societies in Zimbabwe are patriarchal and repressive towards children, women and youth, this study’s findings revealed how, despite available legislation governing youth participation at village level, the actual practice alienates young people from decision making. The institutional set up of VIDCOs and WADCOs was also identified in the study as adversely inhibiting young people’s participation. The study thus recommends capacity building of community leaders and elected representatives who oversee VIDCOs and WADCOs so that young people have maximum utility of such structures.