Young activists in Malawi have expressed concern over government delays in appointing the board of directors of the state-funded Malawi National Youth Council (NYCOM).
Activists described the situation as regressive and unhealthy for the development of youth in the country.
President Lazarus Chakwera reconstituted various parastatal councils, including the NYCOM council in September 2020. However, the reconstituted council received negative reactions from the council’s affiliates, claiming it was illegal because it did not comply with the law on youth.
Affiliates, led by the National Youth Network, have written to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) through the Department of Youth and Sports to rectify the anomaly and appoint a new board in accordance with NYCOM law.
Section 4 (1) of NYCOM Act No. 22 of 1996 provides that âseven persons representing youth organizations registered in Malawiâ are to be appointed to the Council.
Following the development, Youth and Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama engaged youth leaders in a discussion where he also pledged to remedy the anomaly by December 2020.
But despite the appointment of a new board by the government in accordance with the circular issued by the comptroller of statutory companies in early January of this year, the board has not yet been oriented and has not started to exercise its functions despite the alleged resistance from part of the supporters of the ruling party.
This has angered young leaders who now allege that the OPC interrupted the focus of the new NYCOM board of directors following pressure from officials from Tonse Alliance’s main partner, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP ), who wish to be included in the board of directors.
Phalombe Youth Arms Organization (PYAO) executive director Vincent Thom said if the revelations are true then the government is withholding youth development work for ransom.
Thom said there are many outstanding issues within the NYCOM secretariat that only the board can resolve.
He cited the lack of annual general meetings for years as well as the management vacuum in the ranks of NYCOM as some of his leadership positions have yet to be filled pending the functioning of the board.
“It has now been almost nine months since the president dissolved the boards of directors. Other boards are functioning now and as usual; our rights as young people continue to be violated by politics,” he said. he lamented.
Thom, who is also a member of the National Planning Commission Youth Grassroots Advisory Group, has since called for a progressive mindset towards a transformative youth development agenda by decoupling policy from youth work.
One of the NYCOM affiliates, who spoke on condition of anonymity, challenged the Tonse administration to wear thick skin and speak out on promoting the rule of law.
“The government must not make another mistake. The Tonse administration has promised to depoliticize board business. They campaigned on the Super Hi-5, which is built on respect for the rule of law. It would unfortunately be unacceptable for the government to give in to pressure and include party fanatics in the board of directors because this will be an illegal decision, “he said.
Efforts to speak to the Minister of Youth and Sports and the CEO of NYCOM were unsuccessful, as their mobile lines were not reachable at the time of printing.
NYCOM continues to suffer at the mercy of politics as it once was.
It is a statutory company of the Republic of Malawi established under Act No. 22 of 1996 of the Parliament – National Youth Council of Malawi.
NYCOM was formed for the purpose of encouraging, promoting and coordinating youth work in Malawi, including the registration of youth-led organizations.
Over 200 youth organizations across the country are currently registered under NYCOM as affiliates.