Why young people snub Parly public hearings

By James Martin

Young people say they don’t attend Parliamentary public hearings because their voices are not heard as their contributions are not considered most of the times.

Parliament through its legislative role usually go around the country seeking people’s views to various Bills that would have been tabled in Parliament, but young people have been missing in these meetings although some of the Bills such as the Marriages Bill and the Education Bill among others all of which have an effect on their lives.

OpenParlyZW interviewed some youths to understand why they snub Parliament activities and what needs to be done to rectify the situation.

Researcher and journalist Mlondolozi Ndlovu said the youths no longer have confidence in public hearings due to the Parliamentary structure.

“People have no confidence in these processes by these institutions.

“Young people are also tired of these hearings especially when there will not be any change because of the composition of the Parliament when the interests of those in power always take precedence,” he said.

Zanu PF currently has the required two-thirds majority needed to carry out the day in Parliament and have used it pass some Bills which have not been well received.

WeLead Trust founder Namatai Kwekweza concurred with Ndlovu’s adding that youth have lost hope in the Parliamentary processes.

“Apathy for a lot of young Zimbabweans emanates from disappointment. A lot of young people have lost faith in the belief that democracy and leadership work, and that your voice will be heard, and vote counted.

“This explains youth apathy in elections, youth apathy in public hearings and public consultations process as well as apathy in youth aspiring to run for public office,” she said.

However, Harare West legislator Joana Mamombe blamed Parliament for poor communication methods adding placing advertisements in newspapers is not enough to mobile people to attend the meetings.

“Firstly, the Parliament needs to improve in terms of disseminating information. Newspaper adverts are not enough because it is done once.

“It doesn’t matter which Bill is being brought to the people for hearings, in all the bills there is low turnout due to poor communication,” she said.

Mamombe added that the current economic hardships in the country are also a hindrance to young people from participating in Parliamentary public hearings.

“Also, it is because of problems people are currently facing due to economic hardships. People are chasing bread and butter issues and to invite that person for a discussion it will be of no value.

“People will ask you is that going to make electricity and water available.”

When reached for comment, Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda denied that there have been low turnouts in public hearings giving the example of the Marriages Bill which attracted huge crowds during the hearings.

“It depends on where you made those observations but for instance, there were more than 1500 people at Harare International Conference Centre for the Marriage Bill hearing.”

He, however, pledged that Parliament will improve its communication processes to make sure that the message on hearings reaches out to the citizens




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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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