By Costa Nkomo
A regional youth solidarity conference ended Wednesday in Harare, with calls for unity among young people and students in particular to fight dictatorship and oppression in Southern Africa.
Opposition MDC youth representative, Treasury Bhasopo said students across the region must remain vigilant and be ready to intervene in the event of abuses in sister countries.
“Let us fight for academic freedoms. As long as the students in Swaziland and Zambia, are still under oppression, students in Zimbabwe must also find it difficult to live normal (lives) without intervening as Africans.
“The important message here is about solidarity. So, I think as students across the region, if there is no deficit of love, there will be no oppression. If there is enough love definitely we can be able to extricate ourselves from the jaws of aggravated suppression, depression, (the) exploitation of our people by these leaders who have turned to be toxic,” Bhasopo said.
South African based Hlangula Community Organisation leader, Nangamso Kwinana who spoke at the same event, said the conference was aimed at establishing an umbrella platform that will work as an engine for regional cooperation among young people.
“How do we combine efforts? How do we share our knowledge and experiences in order to be able to overcome issues we have identified as prevalent among the youths?
“What we are doing here is to institute a youth solidarity network, whose aim is to seek and identify leaders who would be able to inherit the state affairs of this continent,” Kwinani said.
“In doing so, our aim is then to work together in advancing democratic institutions partnering, with governments that govern citizens in a progressive and sustainable manner.”
Meanwhile, African Union Youth Council (AUYC) head of disabilities portfolio Nyasha Nhau bemoaned what he described as the closed space in Zimbabwe’s government for young people with disabilities.
Nhau said the ministry responsible for youths needs to review its structure, programs and initiatives using disability lenses so that representatives from young disabled people are afforded space at decision making levels.
“We are going to engage the responsible ministry to make sure that we have representatives in the decision making bodies, so that they articulate issues affecting us and contribute towards addressing challenges facing the disabled constituency,” said Nhau.
Zimbabwe’s new Constitution adopted after a referendum in 2013 advocates for equal opportunities including youths and disabled people as well as outlawing discrimination of any kind.