East African governments have been asked to swiftly work on the increasing number of unemployed youths in the region, saying the current situation is a ‘time bomb’ that waits to explode at anytime.
Presenting a paper on the ‘Changing political landscape and the concept of civil society scenarios' for civil society organisations at the just-concluded three-day seminar, which addressed the changing role of civil society in a changing political environment, executive director of Advocate Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) Godber Tumushabe warned that if nothing is done to address the situation, countries in the region will soon be facing a political crisis.
“It is time for governments in the region to work on the matter, which is a threat to the development of the region as the number of unemployed youths keeps mounting.
He warned that millions of educated youths are being produced on yearly basis from colleges and universities across East African countries, but there are no remarkable efforts being made to accommodate them in the labour market.
“This is a time bomb. Governments must do something to address the issue, which, if left unchecked, will plunge the region into political chaos,” he said.
On the issue of post-election violence cases facing four Kenyan suspects at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the activist said that the cases must not be interfered with by politicians.
“We are talking about violence that killed more than 1000 people, displacing nearly 50,000 others and leaving scores of others badly injured. Let justice take its course without having people trying to lobby that the trials should be shifted from The Netherlands to either Tanzania or Kenya,” Tumushabe said.
He said as far he was concerned, remaining on the sidelines is what makes civil society ineffective in the community.
“We are non-governmental, non-religious, non-partisan and all these therefore boil down to nothing; we are nothing,” he reminded, adding that it was high time such CSOs identified themselves with certain issues.
He also expressed concern that CSOs have been keeping quiet on the issue of the post-election cases facing three Kenyan politicians and a journalist at the ICC even when some leaders started to demand that the accused be charged locally.
“People who got killed, injured and displaced do not care where the cases are being conducted. All they want is justice and civil societies in the region should raise their voices in unison against the politicians’ attempts to tamper with the cases,” he said.
The Arusha-based East African Legislative Assembly recently proposed that charges facing the four Kenyan suspects of the 2007-2008 post-election violence in the country be transferred from The Hague and tried at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha instead.
But members of CSOs from seven African countries meeting here warned that the cases be left to proceed at The Netherland-based court.
“Justice can be issued anywhere on earth and therefore let the ICC cases go on without interferences, trying to change the court location is another way of entertaining impunity,” warned the analyst.
Principal of MS-TCDC Dr. Suma Kaare said the seminar also intended to answer three other questions including the roles of CSOs in local politics, opportunities and challenges, and concrete options exist or can be developed.
Dr Kaare added that the meeting also explained why civil society organizations cannot continue to remain non-partisan in an era where representative democracy is failing to deliver social justice and democratic reforms.
A total of 52 representatives of civil society organizations, activists, public servants and politicians from Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tunisia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and the host, Tanzania, attended the meeting.