Youth activists in Malawi have expressed concern over delays by the government to appoint Board of Directors for the State-funded National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM).
The activists have described the situation as retrogressive and unhealthy towards youth development in the country.
President Lazarus Chakwera reconstituted various parastatal boards including the NYCOM Board in September 2020. However, the reconstituted board received backlash from the council's affiliates, saying it is illegal because it did not follow the Youth Act.
The affiliates, led by the National Youth Network, wrote the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) through the Ministry of Youth and Sports to rectify the anomaly and appoint a new board in line with the NYCOM Act.
Section 4 (1) of the NYCOM Act Number 22 of 1996 provides that 'seven persons representing registered youth organizations in Malawi' be appointed to the Council.
Following the development, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama, engaged youth leaders in a discussion where he also committed to address the anomaly by December 2020.
But despite the government appointing new board as per the circular released by the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations early January this year, the board is yet to be oriented and start performing its duties amidst allegedly resistance from a section of ruling party supporters.
This has angered youth leaders who are now alleging that OPC stopped orientation for the newly appointed NYCOM Board following pressure from functionaries of the Tonse Alliance main partner, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who want to be included in the board.
Phalombe Youth Arms Organization (PYAO) Executive Director Vincent Thom said if the revelations are true, then the government is holding youth development work at ransom.
Thom said there are many outstanding issues at the NYCOM Secretariat, which only the board can address.
He cited lack of Annual General Meetings for years now as well as management vacuum in NYCOM ranks as some of its management positions are yet to be filled pending functioning of the board.
"It is now close to nine months since the President dissolved boards. Other boards are now functioning and as usual; our rights as young people keep being raped by politics," he lamented.
Thom, who is also a member of the National Planning Commission Youth Core Advisory Panel, has since called for a progressive mindset towards a transformative youth development agenda by de-linking politics from youth work.
One of the NYCOM affiliates, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity, challenged the Tonse Administration to wear a thick skin and walk the talk on promoting the rule of law.
"The government must not create another mistake. The Tonse Administration promised to de-politicize the board business. They campaigned on Super Hi-5, which has the pillar of observing rule of law. It would be unfortunately unacceptable if the government bows to pressure and include party zealots in the board because it will be illegal decision," he said.
Efforts to talk to the Minister of Youth and Sports and NYCOM Chief Executive Officer proved futile, as their mobile lines could not be reached as went to press.
NYCOM continues to suffer at the mercy of politics as there was a time.
It is a Statutory Corporation of the Republic of Malawi established under the Act of Parliament - National Youth Council of Malawi Act No. 22 of 1996.
NYCOM was formed with the aim of encouraging, promoting and coordinating youth work in Malawi including registering youth led organizations.
Over 200 youth organizations across the country are currently registered under NYCOM as affiliates.