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Youth’s battle for reforms inclusion continues

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Keketso Khunonyane

A coalition of youth organisations have shown dissatisfaction with the ongoing national reforms process.

The youth expressed that they are not happy with the ‘poor communication approach’ by the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) in the first plenary of the reforms process.

Kanono Thabane from the Lesotho for Reforms Organisation, explained that youth leaders from various civil society organisations during their 1-5 April 2019 meeting at AME Hall discussed issues affecting young people in Lesotho.

Thabane said young people are concerned that the current in-district consultations which are underway in different parts of Lesotho are failing to comply with principles as envisaged in the national reforms framework.

“Our concern relates to the systematic exclusion of young Basotho which is perpetuated by the weak design of the process of consultations. Firstly, as espoused in the national reforms framework and road map – transparency and accountability are the guiding principles of the process, however, this is not the case for majority of young Basotho.

The youth whom are inherently custodians are not fully participating in the reforms process. This is against the core principles of the reforms process which states that there will be access to information concerning all activities of the reforms,” explained Thabane

He added; “As things stand, young people are not aware of the ongoing in-district consultations, specifically on which dates, venues and times for each gathering. As a result, they are systematically excluded, even though they are fully willing to participate in the reforms due to a poor communication approach by the NDPC.”

Thabane noted that a large majority of young people are based in institutions of higher learning and are unable to participate in village level gatherings.

He also added that a lot of youth who are willing to share experiences, which can better shape Lesotho, reside outside the country and they too are not able to participate in the reforms process.

“A large majority of youth are at work during the said consultations; thus unable to participate. Even if the consultations were to be conducted on weekends, the concept of a “pitso’’ is not effective in soliciting the youth’s views and opinions on reforms.  Public gatherings which involve the entire community are not a safe space for discussing issues facing young people, for example; legalisation of safe clinical abortions,” said Thabane.

He said that they concluded during their meeting to request the NDPC to implement their issues before the next plenary.

“We want them to promote public education on the reforms process which are targeted for young people. This could be done through websites, social media, and benefit concerts. They should publish all the dates for the public gatherings, venue, and time at platforms which are easily accessible by young people, and an establishment of an online platform which can be accessible by young people at any time of the day, in and out of Lesotho to submit their opinions.

“They should also create consultations which are specifically for youth and they should be a proper mobilisation for such activities,” Thabane stressed.

He indicated that if the NDPC fails to comply with key guiding principles of the reforms process, namely transparency and participation of the custodians of the reforms process they would be acting on their own mandate.

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