Bulawayo youths have been urged to utilise online platforms to engage with the local authority on service delivery issues.
BPRA communications officer, Kelebone Khabo, made these remarks during an online dialogue meeting hosted via Whatsapp by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR).
Khabo noted that due to economic hardships, most youths snub community meetings as they spend most of their time fending for their families.
He said stakeholders should make use of online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to engage the youths without interrupting their day to day schedule.
“BPRA has presence on digital platforms, for example we currently have more than 12 000 followers on Twitter. We have understood that digital platforms is where most youths are found and we continue to spread our presence on digital platforms. We also have a WhatsApp Youth Group where we interact with young people on service delivery issues,” he said.
Khabo said in order to improve youth participation in local governance they appoint youth representatives who reach out to their peers and engage them on issues of concern.
“Only a few youths participate as most have a view that community meetings are for their parents or those who own houses, something that has to be demystified. As BPRA we however have Secretaries for youths both male and female in the ward structures, posts that were created for the youths to occupy so that they contribute on behalf of other youths,” he said.
“These secretaries are also responsible for mobilising their peers to attend the meetings. In terms of contributions, they do contribute but less action is taken on their contributions as we have a local authority and councillors who have failed the people by becoming defenders of the city hall rather than taking the contributions by the people for adoption by the local authority.”
Khabo said there was need to constantly engage the local authority to refurbish youth centres so that they attract young people.
“Let’s hold constant meetings to have discussions on topical issues via online platforms and in these discussions let’s work on recommendations that we would have come up with. Let’s also push for the local authority to build or refurbish youth centres in our communities so that we can have spaces for us to have our discussions,” he said.