Gwanda Rural District Council (RDC) has been directed by the Ministry of Local Government to form a junior council that will be made up of students to promote children’s rights and welfare.
A junior city council is a local form of government governed by minors that, once formed, will oversee children’s rights in Gwanda District, especially their right to education and health.
This was revealed at Gwanda RDC’s full council meeting on Friday, when the Executive Officer for Administration and Human Resources, Khulekani Sithole, stated the rural authority had received a directive from the Minister of Local Government to set up the junior council.
“The Local Government ministry wishes that we could have a junior council which will be a replica of this council. This is supposed to be put into action with immediate effect. It was noticed that amongst the 90 local authorities, Gwanda RDC is one of the 15 councils that doesn’t have a junior council. Our neighbours, the Municipality of Gwanda has the junior council,” said Sithole.
“The purpose is simple. They want to give children the opportunity to discuss their issues the way they wish and see fit and also for them to participate in decision making.”
Sithole stated that the junior council, as a replica council, will have its own chairperson, deputy chairperson, councilors, and sub-committees.
“Amongst the junior councillors, there will also be a CEO, engineer, so it will be just a structure of a council which they will handle on their own but they will be guided by a patron from council senior management, a policy maker and a focal person,” he said.
He added that the junior council will have different committees as well.
“These committees will include health, education, infrastructure which will campaign for recreational facilities. This council will also be expected to do a lot of charity work to assist the elderly, in orphanage homes, and people with disabilities,” said Sithole.
“The junior councillors will conduct meetings on their own but they can for example invite the District Schools Inspector (DSI) if they have pressing matters.”
The executive officer stated the Local Government Ministry had stressed the importance of the junior Council being inclusive of girls and children with disabilities.
“If the CEO is a boy, most definitely the council chair has to be a girl, this is part of equal opportunities and this council also has to comprise children with disabilities in its composition,” said Sithole.
Sithole added: “As council we are expected to have a budget towards that and there will be training in Bindura where the financial director will be trained on how they should budget for junior council, it’s a multi stakeholder approach just like this one.”
The junior councillors will be chosen from schools and must be in Form Three or Lower Six, not those who are writing examinations.
“So this also guides us in terms of age,” Sithole said, adding that however, it does not stop those in primary level from participating.
“An example is Chipinge and Zvishavane junior councils, which have children in Grade six. This depends on the child’s intelligence. If every ward has a junior councilor, there will be 24 plus the executive.”
Sithole highlighted that students from wards without secondary schools will be chosen through school catchment areas.
“The term of junior council is just one year, it will start from February ending February the other year so that the learners are not disturbed in the academics,” he said.