THE old adage states that ‘youths are the future leaders of tomorrow.’
However, there is an addition that youths are actually the leaders of today and tomorrow, hence the call for the young people to participate in economic growth.
It is for this reason that the 2023 youth day celebrations were centred on economic participation from young people to record success.
Youths should have a mindset change, be innovative and engage positively if economic development is to be achieved.
With the main celebrations being hosted in Kitwe and graced by President Hakainde Hichilema, the celebrations were held under the theme, “Transforming minds for accelerated youth development.”
This is a direct call to the young people to unite and turn around the country’s economy.
One of the entrepreneurs that set up a stand at Arthur Davis Stadium where the celebrations were held, Carol Simujayangombe, interpreted this year’s theme as a time to inculcate a spirit of being part of development.
Ms Simujayangombe, whose stand was visited by President Hichilema, is into peanut butter making and farming.
She says in an interview that youths should not just wait for handouts but change their mindset and be part of the people that are contributing to the economic transformation of the country.
“Our youths today should have a change of mindset and not just wanting to be given all the time. They should participate, if I increase on my sales, revenue will be collected because I will contribute through tax,” she says.
Ms Simujayangombe, however, says the challenge she has in her business, which she does with her sister Ruth, is lack of resources.
“I have an industrial machine, but I need more equipment like a roasting machine. For now I only depend on the oven and so I would be delighted if Government can come in and assist in providing for resources,” she adds.
Mwale Mfula, a student at the Copperbelt University(CBU) says in a separate interview that the Government should allocate more resources to young innovators that lack resources to boost their businesses.
Mr Mfula says there is potential and ability to improve the welfare of the young people, like himself, if helped with resources.
“Lack of resources by some of the innovative youths is what has seen many lagging behind. I wish to implore the Government to put in more money in supporting such talent to help them thrive,” he says.
Young Women with a Vision programme coordinator Violet Chifunda notes with concern the lack of interest from some youths to tap into Government programmes to learn how they can improve their lives.
Ms Chifunda explains that to be self-reliant, young people should not only depend on government for formal jobs but venture into income-generating businesses.
She notes that Government is working tirelessly in spearheading programmes that seek to better the lives of the youths.
Memory Chanda, a pupil at Wusakile Secondary School, advises her fellow youths to exhibit hard work by putting effort in their daily endeavours to better their lives.
She says it is imperative that young people focus on success through resilience and hard work.
Ms Chanda advises that young people should take advantage of the ‘New Dawn’ administration’s attractive packages in the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects to help realise their full potential.
President Hichilema who described the celebrations in Kitwe as memorable and joyful, urged the youths to embrace a spirit of hard work.
“This is important because we need to join hands and turn around our country’s economy.
“Job creation, business opportunities, and empowerment are what we assure you, and now we are working round the clock to ensure that more of these opportunities are made readily available,” he says.
Mr Hichilema says his administration is implementing targeted interventions meant to empower youths to be self-reliant.
“While doing this, we must avoid vices such as ‘tantameni’ (queuing for hand-outs) which are not sustainable,” he further says.
He further states that no meaningful development can ever be achieved without the engagement of the youth.
Youths should be innovative and be at the centre of the country for development to take place.
“You carry a heavy burden to take responsibility of what the country becomes. You are working with us and you deserve to be up and not down,” says President Hichilema.
Indeed youths are the leaders of today and the future and, therefore, should commit themselves to change the country for the better by taking part in economic transformation.
It is high time the youths took responsibility and showed maturity by refusing to be part of violent activities and drug abuse but instead engage positively in progressive ideas to better their lives.