Zimbabwe: Helping minority youth find a political voice
The Zimbabwe Organization for Youth in Politics (ZOYP) has been using the UN Declaration on Minorities to lobby policymakers to ensure that Ndebele, and other marginalized ethnic groups such as Kalanga and Tonga, can participate effectively in the country’s political system.
ZOYP is a grassroots non-governmental organization based in the small mining town of Kwekwe, an area dominated by Ndebele, Zimbabwe’s largest minority. ZOYP provides leadership training for youth, including youth from minority communities, to help them become more actively involved in national politics.
The Declaration has been very useful for their work. ‘We have been using the Declaration to do our advocacy work thus capacitating people in our community and holding our government accountable over the respect of minority rights,’ Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo, Executive Director of ZOYP explained.
ZOYP has translated the Declaration into the Tonga language and used it during workshops with local community organizations. ‘Our trainings focus on the basics of the Declaration, what their rights are and how best the minority groups can be cohesive in pressurizing those in authority to enhance and respect the rights of minority groups.’
Zimbabwe is currently in the process of drafting a new Constitution. ZOYP realizes this is a crucial opportunity for Zimbabwe to recognize and protect the rights of its minority communities. ‘During this time, we petitioned the government to pay immediate attention to minority groups. In the petition we quoted Article 2.2 and 2.3 of the Declaration, which focuses on the right of persons belonging to minorities to participate in the political life of the country, as well as to participate in decision-making.’
Its advocacy activities have paid off. ZOYP, in collaboration with other local 15 groups, has successfully campaigned for the appointment of the first Tonga minister in the current government. ZOYP is continuing to advocate for minority youth participation in the life of Zimbabwe and hopes that more funding will allow them to train people about the Declaration in all 30 districts.
This is an extract from Minority Rights Group's publication Know your rights: A community guide to the UN Declaration on Minorities.
Photo: Tonga girls in Zimbabwe. Credit: Frans Welman/IWGIA.