By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The representatives from different sectors representing youth had last week validated the National Youth Development Bill (NYDA, 2021) in a ceremony that was led by the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture, and Social Development.

This was the last round of the bill validation by Maseru youth as the bill’s draft has circulated across all other districts.

“An Act to establish youth institutional structures; to provide for their functions and programmes towards a meaningful youth development in Lesotho and for related matters,” reads the NYDA preamble.

The bill is a precursor to the long-awaited National Youth Council.

When mounted, the National Youth Council will, among others tasks within its mandate; regulate and coordinate activities as well as initiatives relating to youth development, promote and popularise the national youth development policy as well as other youth-related policies.

It will also mobilise resources and advocate for a conducive policy environment to support and fund youth non-profit and profitmaking projects, programmes and initiatives; promote, research, collate and analyse data on youth issues, programmes, organisations, and other civic and social-political issues affecting the youth both at national and international level.

The National Youth Council is envisaged to promote and advise on the establishment of the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Fund and also advocate for mainstreaming of youth development in all public and private sectors;

Its composition will be made of 10 youths, two representatives from vulnerable youth who will be elected on annual basis, one youth with expertise in youth development, and the Director of Youth.

In the interim, some of the aspects of the bill will likely change pending the inclusion of the various recommendations made by youth across the country as it is a draft.

The Director of Youth, Lipalesa Lesenyeho said the next phase after the last round of validation by Maseru youth will be to consolidate all recommendations and send them to the office of the Parliamentary Council in order to be drafted into law.

She said when passed, the Bill proposes the establishment of institutions such as the National Youth Council Work that will be regulated in order for the advancement of the work of youth.

The Director said they are trying to “calm down” the document, which she said is owing to the fact that they do not want power centered on one institution.

From Bacha Shutdown, Tumelo Moteuli charged the Ministry to advance the interests of the youth.

Moteuli took aim at what he said the Ministry “impose” on some representatives of the governing body.

He also expressed disapproval of the representatives that will be drawn from the political parties saying there should be a fair and transparent recruitment process where members should be engaged based on merit following a competitive process.

The National Youth Council was dissolved following the controversies such as litigations and political involvement.