By Francis Emorut
KAMPALA - The youth in the country have been warned against using violence to cause change in governance structures, and have been told to instead use intellectual discourse to influence government policies.
This call was sounded by the assistant commissioner in charge of youth affairs in the ministry of gender, labour and social development, Mondo Kyateka.
He was responding to Godfrey Karyegyema, the NRM youth chairperson Ntugamo district who questioned how the youth can influence government policies when they are teargased by police personnel.
“You are telling us to participate in decision-making processes and influence policy formulation but whenever we [youth] try to air their views they are teargased,” said Karyegyema.
In his response, Kyateka told the youth that they can use non-violence ways to usher in change, saying using violence to cause change is “the most primitive way”.
“For any difficult situation you can use dialogue and intellectual discourse to usher in change,” he argued.
He was addressing the youth during a meeting meant to disseminate a youth guide participation manual in Kampala.
The youth manual is intended to facilitate meaningful participation of young people in development as a means to ensure sustainable development.
The document points out that lack of youth participation poses a threat to any society, and cites the Arab Spring where hundreds of youth took to the streets to cause change after being marginalized.
The Arab Spring led to the overthrow of governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
“It is important to keep the youth busy, engaged and productive through their participation to avoid the collapse of societal structures,” Kyateka noted.
He observed that cultural practices and poverty, since the majority of them are not financially empowered, hinder them to participate in decision-making processes.
The chairman of the National Youth Council Samuel Kavuma (left) talks to Ntugamo chairperson of Uganda national students association James Batabare (centre) and Godfrey Kamanya Ntugamo, the NRM youth chairperson at Hotel International Muyenga in Kampala. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
‘Do research and get facts correctly’
Moses Adome, the Kotido youth chairperson cited the Karamojong culture which bars the youth from participating in traditional functions where elders are involved.
“In Karamoja when the elders are in the shrines performing a function young people are not allowed in and if you risk they will curse you,” he said.
Kyateka advised the youth that if they are to influence policy shift in budget allocation, they should do research and have relevant information/data on their fingure tips.
“With information communication technology (ICT) you can’t ignore to do research and get facts correctly,” he said.
He also encouraged them to read widely and listen to news on what is happening both locally and globally.
‘Booing is backward’
He implored the youth not to underestimate themselves by believing that they are young, and told them that Jesus Christ started the greatest revolution at the age of 12.
“You must participate in shaping the destination of the country, don’t say that you are so young.”
He asked the young people to overcome the inferiority complex and instead develop courage.
The commissioner further cautioned the youth against the mentality of booing government officials when they are addressing the public.
“Young people have a habit of booing. Booing is archaic and backward. Learn to respect people with divergent views. It’s not by shouting that you will solve your problems.”
The executive secretary of National Youth Council, Shaft Nasser Mukwaya, encouraged the young people to participate in decision-making processes through civil society organizations, faith-based and community organizations in order to influence policy shift in education, health and agriculture sectors.
Samuel Kavuma, the chairman of the National Youth Council, noted that the country has the best youth structures but implementation is hampered by inadequate allocation of resources to finance youth programmes.
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