The world over, humankind is now subject to rules, laws and regulations. This is because within our surrounding substance of life and living as human beings we had for so long demonstrated a lack of reliability, selflessness, discipline, among many other attributes that would stand to explicitly define and separate us from literal animals living in the jungle.
We had failed to distinguish ourselves.
In pursuit to restoring and establishing this order and justice within the human race, we sought to create for ourselves structures and a framework that would govern, guide and protect us from each other.
Policies were put in place to enforce a constant and secure environment for every citizen in spite of colour, gender, race or age. For us the strength to demand rights and liberties according to the matrix of civilisation as Zimbabweans is thus found within these policies that are guided by a common base of fundamental principles we have allowed to govern us as a people and have brought to a collection we have decided to define as a constitution.
The constitution because of what it is, a demand is made just by what it represent that during its make up there be a wide spread consensus among the citizens beyond any reasonable doubt as it is the document of the people.
A country or a government may negotiate contracts and treaties with the outside world, but it is not expected to negotiate its own constitution. Looking at our unveiled draft constitution every young person who had been excited prior, hoping for an all inclusive constitution would be painstakingly disappointed.
Our proposed constitution is a major concern to young people as it only provides about a paragraph of what the constitution crafting committee thought was necessary to be covered under the youth sector.
The questions still lingers, do we really view our youth as important as they really are?
Were the young people adequately represented in the consultations? And was their voice heard and recommendations taken on board?
The constitution must not seek to unnecessarily summarise the rights, entitlements and responsibilities of young people in a blanket term that don't seem to spell out what the youth is entitled to and to what extent.
The current draft constitution is acknowledging young people as an important part of the society who need to be empowered, but fails to set the proper parameters by which young people can identify with.
The broad term approach in my own definition is too broad to be of substance to the youth. Empty words in a constitution do not excite the youth.
As we set the ills and the wrongs of the past let us remember that it was the youth who fought for this country and brought us to this position where we now have the liberty to consult and create a new constitution. The youth in Zimbabwe must feel that they are in their motherland, they must be given a solid base from which to advocate for their empowerment.
Power within the levels that they can manage must clearly be given to them in the constitution and not entertain thoughts that indigenous people are not good enough to make it on their own lest we create loopholes for externalisation of opportunities.
Our constitution must be informed by Youth international charters that Government has ratified and committed to, like the African Youth Charter and the recently approved National Youth Policy that recognises young people as active players within a society.
The African Youth Charter stipulates economic, social and participatory rights of the youth that need to be specifically provided for and represented within the constitution. Our constitution must not only grant the rights of the youth, but better off it has to recognise them. It must not be a document that makes our young people feel like it is an instrument that will be used to restrain them and the interest they represent.
As much as we the young people may highlight issues to do with space given to youth in the constitution we also understand that it may not be the length of the document, but its substance that matters.
With regards to the constitution of India which is the longest written in the world containing 44 articles, 12 schedules and 94 amendments, with 117 369 words in its English language version, still it fails to address so many economic imbalances that currently exist within the Indian society with the gap between the rich and the poor having been high and increasing for many decades. The United States constitution on the other hand is the shortest written constitution in the world with only 7 articles and 27 amendments, but their citizen's concerns have been getting a voice for a long time, including the racial discrimination that people like Martin Luther King had to fight for.
As much as America has a bad record outside its borders of being known as a bully internationally, Americans have understood that back home the constitution has to take care of Americans.
Both the young and the old are aware of their rights and what their constitution says concerning them and their welfare. Our constitution must clearly do the same in ensuring that the future of our indigenous young people is secured with no limitations to it.
Innocent Katsande is the Communications Officer for Zimbabwe Youth Council