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‘Councils must create youth responsive budgets’

Youths in Bulawayo have lobbied the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to allocate a portion of its annual budget to youth development programmes and directly engage them during budget consultation meetings.  

This came out during a Social and Economic Justice Activism Academy meeting organised by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) themed “Promoting Youths Activism for Tax Justice” at Bulawayo Club on Wednesday.

Some of the participants said the council budget does not cater for youth-specific needs.

“The last meeting I attended was in September and I noticed that we as the youths were not part of the budget and we fall under the social services budget, how can we fall under social services when the department is so broad and it has a lot of things to cater for,” said one youth from Nkulumane.

Another participant suggested that the council should organised youth focused budget consultative meetings at ward level.  

“If you notice, budget consultative meetings when they commence, they are held at the City Hall in town and most of us do not have the means to come to the city hall so we are suggesting that these meetings should be held at ward level,” said another youth.

Other participants said it was high the local authority digitalised the budget meetings.

“Youths use technology a lot and most of them will be at school or at work so if budget consultative budget processes are held online, we can be able to share our views,” said a participant.

Tatenda Mukoma said there was a need for platforms where young people can caucus before consultative meetings are held so they can put their ideas together.

“Let us formulate what we will present and speak in one voice so that we have tangible contributions to make to the council,” said Mukoma.

“Let us talk and discuss among ourselves so that we can be able to tell BCC we do not want to be part of the social services.”

ZIMCODD’s programmes manager, Florence Ndhlovu reiterated that the fact that youths are included in budget processes shows that there is youth responsive budgeting in local governance.

“The fact that youths are called for the meeting process reveals that they are subscribing to Youth Responsive Budgeting,” said Ndhlovu.

She added that budget processes should be advertised for two weeks so that everyone is aware.

“According to the law consultative meetings should be advertised for a minimum of two weeks and broadcasted widely and ensure that everyone attends,” said Ndhlovu.

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