So, we are told two projects of special significance to the youth of this nation may soon take off, to the delight and relief of this important age group as well as other stakeholders in the envisaged initiatives.
We are referring to the formation of the National Youth Council as well as starting a special bank to cater for the economic interests of our young men and women.
The government senior official who disclosed the good news last week was none other than Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, who is responsible for the Information, Culture and Youth Affairs ministerial docket. He was in Musoma, officiating at the Ministry function to mark Tanzania’s 50th independence anniversary, whose climax is a few weeks ahead.
Although we are dealing with the 4th phase government which, among other things, is reputed for trading in promises, yet we need not doubt much the authenticity of this report made available by the man in the kitchens of the government and the ruling party, especially when other sources also indicate that the government is hell bent to do whatever is possible to win the hearts of the youth in the society.
Only a blind African prince needs a 21st Century Machiavelli to warn him against the dangers of ignoring the interests of the youth in a turbulent continent.
Obviously, formation of the National Youth Council is not a new idea but an old one, stalled by politicians for reasons best known to them.
Since independence (in 1961), some young men and women in the country have all along been proposing formation of a body with a mandate to give the youth a voice in national affairs, mobilize them for national development, and cater for their socio-economic interests. Demand for the institution increased when the country re-established a multiparty political system in the early 1990s.
Advocates of a National Youth Council have all along argued that it is no longer practical and desirable for the ruling party’s youth wing to represent the interests of the youth in the multiparty politics era. As expected, this stand has never impressed senior ruling party cadres and their political fanatics, for a simple reason that adjusting the old arrangement erodes the party’s political base and influence.
Initiatives to establish National Women Council to pursue interests of this important social group encountered a similar unnecessary hurdle, as the ruling party’s women wing all along assumed it was the natural outfit qualified to speak for women in the country.
Now that we are told plans to establish a National Youth Council are at an advanced stage, we can sigh with relief and hope that finally the powers of the day have seen light and are determined to make the longstanding project a reality. This is a good first step, but some questions can still be raised.
To what extent are key stakeholders being involved in the formation of this institution designed to serve them? How independent will the anticipated baby be?
Some observers note that creating a National Youth Council is not enough. The latitude of operation such a body gets as well as the financial and manpower empowerment it is given matter a lot for it to be effective. We already have enough toothless bull-dogs in the name of national institutions.
As for the envisaged government initiated youth bank, there is not much to say apart from also welcoming the long overdue initiative. A few months back there were reports that the ruling party plans to assist its youth wing to establish a youth bank, apparently to serve the youth countrywide. Some people smelt a rat.
The relief here is that the government supported bank, which is likely to serve the interests of all, irrespective of political or any other differences is in the offing. Indeed, creation of both important institutions is possible and as the slogan goes, where there is a will, there is a way.
Henry Muhanika is a Media Consultant [email protected]