Speech by His Excellency, Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, at the commemoration of the National Youth day on 12th March, 2012 Freedom Statute, Lusaka.
Theme: “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable National Development”
It gives me great pleasure this morning to address this gathering, and through you, the nation at large on this important occasion of the national youth day.
Zambia every year celebrates 12th of march as national youth day to remember the contributions of the gallant youth of this nation for their role in the political independence of the country.
Now, the celebrations provide us the opportunity to review our performance of what we have achieved for the youth and to reflect on what we need to do in order to improve their well being.
Today is also an opportunity to the Zambian youth to express their views on issues affecting their wellbeing.
It is a day for the youth of Zambia to enjoy their rights and freedom and also to reflect on their obligations, responsibility and contribution towards national development.
This is also a challenge to every Zambian youth to tell the nation of what has been their personal contribution to self and national development.
It is a challenge to every Zambian youth to critically look at oneself to find out whether you are part of society’s problems or you are part of solutions to society’s problems.
It is time for a paradigm shift and repositioning oneself in an effort to contribute positively to national development.
Distinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen, the youth: No country can attain its social and economic development goals without the active participation of the youth.
However, the Zambian youth are yet to play their positive role in the quest to promote youth participation in national development.
On our party, our government will guarantee educational and employment opportunities for the youth.
Government is seeking to address some of the challenges by using locally driven socio- economic initiatives to empower citizens while recognizing the important role the donor community plays in complementing such initiatives.
We are seeking an inclusive government and open our doors to all stakeholders in running the affairs of the state.
The theme for this year’s national youth day: “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable National Development,” is very appropriate at a time when the patriotic front government has committed itself to empowering the youth to catalyze them to take up their right place in society.
In the past two decades the youth were not at the centre regarding their participation in the national development.
This has been due to inadequate resources targeted at youth development and as such, the majority of the youth in Zambia has remained unemployed, ill-educated and without formal skills to enable them earn a living.
It is therefore time we invested optimally in the youth and ensure that they participate in the socio-economic development of the country.
Distinguished guests, the youth, ladies and gentlemen: May I take this opportunity to salute the Zambian youth for peacefully participating in the september 2011 general elections.
The peaceful change of government that took place is a true reflection of the entrenchment of democracy in our country.
We should indeed be proud as a people for such a remarkable achievement.
Now that elections are behind us, it is time for us all to focus on forging ahead with the development of our country.
On my part, I wish to reiterate my pledge to make Zambia a better place for all youths in line with the patriotic front vision which is, and I quote:“the citizens of this great land not only deserve better lives but are entitled to better living.”
To all the Zambian youths, I say it is time to put Zambia first in the interest of achieving our social and economic development.
You are therefore urged to participate by utilizing the available developmental programmes that are aimed at both empowering you and empowering the country.
My dear youths, country men and women: Zambia this year celebrates forty-eight (48) years of independence amidst high poverty levels in the country.
Despite being endowed with a lot of natural resources, the country has continued to face staggering poverty and low formal sector employment opportunities for our dear youths.
The recently pronounced economic growth characterized by the classification of Zambia as a middle income country is meaningless if it does not make noticeable impact on poverty reduction among our people especially the youth.
I would therefore like to see that the pronouncements in economic performance translate into substantial reduction in poverty indicators and creation of employment opportunities.
The challenge of our government is therefore to improve the quality of life of the Zambian youth especially those in rural areas.
Our goal is to achieve higher and sustainable economic growth that will uplift the well-being of our youth and the poor in our society.
To this end, the patriotic front government is introducing programmes to accelerate the socio-economic empowerment of citizens especially women and youths.
Offering employment opportunities for our people, especially many young men and women leaving educational institutions is critical to the fulfillment of the patriotic front manifesto which promises job creation and putting more money in our people’s pockets.
Distinguished guests, youths, ladies and gentlemen: Our government shall concentrate its efforts on skills development and creating self-employment opportunities especially for the youths of our country.
The Patriotic Front electoral victory achieved in the 2011 tripartite elections is owed in large measure to our young generation.
It is them who were among the large numbers of our citizens that worked so hard to bring about the desired change last year.
We therefore owe them jobs by creating employment opportunities when they graduate from colleges, universities and skills training centres.
This shall be done through equipping the youth with skills and business enterprise know-how and the financing needed for self-employment and entry into the formal sector.
My government has in the last five months of our being in office made tremendous strides in trying to improve the wellbeing of our dear youth and these include:
i. Construction of district youth skills training centres—our government has provided for more than K10.3 billion in this year’s budget for the construction of district youth skills training centres and rehabilitation.
We are currently constructing twelve (12) centres in all the ten provinces.
Once complete, these centres will offer vocational and life skills to the youth for improved and sustainable livelihoods.
Our government has further provided K50 billion in this year’s budget for youth skills training development.
All these measures are meant to put more money in the pockets of our youths.
ii. Youth development fund: the pf government realizes that the youths face a number of challenges to access money from banks and other financial institutions.
This has hampered many young people from venturing in business for wealth and employment creation. Therefore government has provided K11 billion this year for the promotion of youth enterprise development and provide less cumbersome and cheaper finance.
I am therefore challenging all the youths countrywide to come up with viable project/business proposals so that they can access the money to create their own businesses and be able to positively contribute to national development.
Your government is committed and determined to come up with initiatives that are meant to provide a framework for an informed and effective support in the design, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes that will promote productive and job-rich growth for our Zambian youth.
It is my desire that the patriotic front government shall achieve the following in the next five years: i. Design and include youth employment strategies in national development frameworks; ii. Improve the livelihoods and employability for the youth; and iii. Establish sustainable political will, leadership and technical capacity for achieving results on youth employment creation.
I therefore call upon the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sport to initiate the process of coming up with a detailed programme and action plan on youth empowerment.
This should be reflective of national circumstances and should take into account consultations with stakeholders among them, the youth, the united nations agencies and the commonwealth youth programme through well organized and coordinated national youth consultative forum.
My office expects to receive the final draft of the action plan on youth empowerment in Zambia by the 30th september, 2012.
Distinguished guests, dear youths, ladies and gentlemen: I am aware that the absence of the office of the district youth development officer is negatively affecting delivering services to our dear youths.
I therefore direct the permanent secretaries at the public service management division and ministry of youth and sport to expedite the process of establishing and filling the office of the district youth development officer.
This shall enhance service delivery and ensure accelerated empowerment for the youth.
Furthermore, you should ensure that all district youth vocational training centres are adequately and appropriately staffed including the newly constructed centres.
Distinguished guests, dear youths, ladies and gentlemen: I now wish to thank organisations and cooperating partners who have jointly worked with my government in making this year’s youth week and day celebrations successful.
I further wish to thank the youths of Zambia through various youth organizations, government ministries, private sector and public institutions for their participation in the march past today and other activities during youth week.
I thank you and may God the Almighty richly bless the Republic of Zamba and its people!