National Youth Council Elections 2011 Schedule

Registration of Voters: 14th March – 8th April 2011

Elections from the Sub-Location level to the Provincial level: 18th April-20th May 2011

National Delegates forum: 26th – 27th May 2011

National Youth Congress: 30th – 31st May 2011

Gazettement of the National Youth Council Members: June 2011

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National Youth Council Guidelines

NYC Guidelines Digest

The Youth Congress Position On The National Youth Council Act 2009 And Its Operationalization

Introduction

Although the National Youth Council Act that was legislated in 2009[1] was meant to ensure effective implementation of the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 it has fallen quite short of the goal even before its operationalization. When the youth rallied behind the formulation of the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 and proposed the formation of the National Youth Council it is because they wanted a reliable, independent, responsive and effective institution that could address their concerns most of which have been ignored over years.

They envisaged a National Youth Council that would serve as a lead and negotiating institution for the youth and amplifier of youth issues. They expected a National Youth Council that would ensure improvement of their socio-economic and political conditions through effective   representation and participation at various levels.

The Youth Congress an independent youth organization in Kenya whose mission is to provide a platform where the youth consolidate their position to improve their condition and realize their full potential believes that for the National Youth Council to play its role effectively then it should be credible, legitimate, inclusive, independent and sustainable. As it is the National Youth Council Act and its operationalization mechanisms do not afford the youth the proposed and desired National Youth Council. The Youth Congress has reviewed the National Youth Council Act 2009 and the proposed election guidelines and would like to point out some specific concerns.

A. NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL ACT 2009

i. Functions of the National Youth Council

Part II and in particular section 4 on the functions of the Council is largely indicative that the National Youth Council will not have any political power to ensure translation of pertinent policies into desired results. It is portrayed as a body that will only be responsible for promoting awareness and inclusion. In fact, the words used the most in this section are to promote, popularize, facilitate, link, liaise, mobilize, inspire, lobby and such others.  One of the principal functions of the National Youth Council should be to ensure effectiveness and responsiveness of all Government and its Agencies on youth and youth issues as espoused in the present constitution.

ii. Composition of the National Youth Council

The independence of the National Youth Council is not afforded in the National Youth Council Act 2009 as far as the composition of the Council is concerned. According to Part II section 5 of the Act, the Council shall be composed of sixteen elected youth representatives including the chairperson, one secretary, four Permanent Secretaries[2] and the Attorney General. The inclusion of Permanent Secretaries and the Attorney General all with voting powers could be problematic as it is likely to supplant the independent participation of the youth.

The argument that we need these Government officials because they work in the Ministries that have direct link to youth issues does not hold. If that is the case then, Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 that provide for the National Youth Council identified priority strategic areas for youth as; Employment (Ministry of Labour), Health (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation), Education (Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology ), Sports and recreation(Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports), Art and culture (Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sport , Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture ), Environment(Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources), youth empowerment and participation in national life (Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030) and Youth and media(Ministry of Information and Communication). Where is that direct link!

 

If link is presumed to be the purpose, then unemployment, Environment and Health are major youth concerns. Where are the Permanent Secretaries of these Ministries? There are Quasi Government bodies where the Permanent Secretaries do not constitute their membership and discharge their duties quite effectively e.g. Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Such models should be used in establishing the National Youth Council to guarantee its independence and autonomy.

iii. Nexus with Ministry of Youth Affairs

The Act is silent on the envisaged relationship between the National Youth Council beyond establishment of the new body. This is matter that should have been stated clearly in the National Youth Council Act to avoid stand offs like what has been witnessed in the past in the Ministry. The National Youth Council should emerge as body that would be responsible for ensuring effectiveness and responsiveness of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports if at all there is still need to have both of them.

iv. Powers of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports

While one would expect an independent National Youth Council, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports still wields immense powers that are anchored in the National Youth Council Act. To exemplify, despite the elections of youth council members, the Minister still has the final say. According to section 5 subsection (1) (a) the Minister will be responsible for appointment of the chairperson nominated by the Council. The role of the Minister in this case should be to endorse the candidate elected not nominated by the council. In the first Schedule, section 2 subsection (b) states that a member of the Council can be removed from the office by the Minister. This could give the Minister leeway to victimize dissenting voices in the council and reconstitute the Council without proper procedures as has been witnessed in several occasions in the past.

v. Nexus with Advisory Board

The National Youth Council Act is silent on the envisaged relationship between the National Youth Council and the Board. This is matter that should have been stated clearly in the Act to avoid stand offs like what has been witnessed in the past in the Ministry. There is need to establish clear mechanisms for interactions between The National Youth Council and the Advisory Board.

 

B. ELECTION GUIDELINES FOR NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

i) Effective Consultations

There lacks effective consultative mechanisms with the youth both in the formulation of The National Youth Council Act 2009 and the subsequent election guidelines. Where that has happened it has been sporadic, urban based and mostly arise as a result of demand by youth organizations. There hasn’t been a clear plan and strategy to consult the youth in their various clusters on the matter. This could have major implications on the ownership of the documents, process and results.

ii) Civic Awareness

There can be no doubt that the level of awareness on the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006, National Youth Act 2009, Election Guidelines and the concomitant process are painfully dismal. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has not rolled out plans to ensure massive awareness that would somewhat lead to broader participation and ownership by the youth. This is regardless of the fact that the elections were set to commence in February 2011. This can only mean that turn out will be quite low and the resulting National Youth Council will be quite illegitimate.

 

iii) Independence of the National Election Supervisory Committee

The guideline in bullet 4 proposes the establishment of the National Election Supervisory Committee at the national levels whose among the key function is; to co-ordinate the National Youth Council Election at the national levels and oversee the election at the National Youth Congress and National Delegate Forum. This Committee is constituted of five Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Provincial Administration and Internal Affairs, Finance, Gender, Children and Social Services and the Office of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, a representative of the Interim Independent Election Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and two representatives nominated by the Minister.

It also provides for election supervisory committee in every sub-Location, Location, Division, Constituency and County. These are constituted by; officer from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development and three persons nominated by faith based organization, non-governmental organization or a youth organization and appointed by the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports.

Apparently, the composition of the National Election Supervisory Committee is 80% Government. This could jeopardize the autonomy of the elections since there are already concerns on influence and interference by some officials with the intended National Youth Council. Such elections should be steered and coordinated by an independent body that is fairly disinterested in the persons to be elected.

Similarly, bullet six of the guidelines also proposes the establishment of Election Supervisory Committee in every sub-location, location, division, and constituency and county that is accountable to the Minister and not the National Election Supervisory Committee. In so doing the Minister and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will be undermining the independence of the already skewed National Election Supervisory Committee.

 

iv) Affirmative Action

The guidelines does not expressively explain the manner in which the various priority target groups that includes but not limited to; youth with disability, street youth, youth infected with HIV/AIDS, female youth, the unemployed youth and youth out of school will be involved in the process of establishing and operationalizing the National Youth Council. The guidelines have no consideration to youth from historically marginalized communities without clear way for representation. The National Youth Council need to conform to principles and values underlying the National Youth Policy that is; Respect of cultural belief systems and ethical values, Equity and accessibility, Gender inclusiveness, Good governance and Mainstreaming youth issues.

 

C. THE YOUTH CONGRESS SUBMISSION

The National Youth Council must be credible, legitimate, independent and effective. It’s in this backdrop that we seek the following;

1)       Review of the National Youth Council Act 2009.-The Nation Youth Council Act 2009 and the election guideline should be reviewed and youth concerns in- cooperated before the election and subsequent establishment of the National Youth Council. The concerns in the National Youth Council Act includes but not limited to;

  • Removal or reduction of the number of Government officials like the Permanent Secretaries and the Attorney General and take away their voting right.
  • The National Youth Council Act 2009 should state categorically the relationship between the National Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  • Reduce powers of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in the National Youth Council
  • The National Youth Council Act should state clearly the relationship between the National Youth Council and the Advisory Board.

2)       Youth leadership and participation-The process of establishing the National Youth Council must ensure youth leadership and participation and full involvement of key stakeholders of the later.

3)       Civic education schedule-There should be civic education on the National Youth Council election prior to the election and other stakeholders incorporated.

4)       Election by Interim Independent Election Commission –The national election for the National Youth Council should be conducted by the Interim Independent Election Commission (IIEC) for credibility and transparency.

5)       Principles and values underlying the National Youth Policy- The National Youth Council must conform to principles and values that is; Respect of cultural belief systems and ethical values, Equity and accessibility, Gender inclusiveness, Good governance and Mainstreaming youth issues.

Conclusion
As such, The Youth Congress looks forward to offering its support, in whatever form possible, to ensure participation of the young people in the establishment of Independent, inclusive, efficient and effective National Youth Council by the youth, with the youth and for the youth and the subsequent follow up to champion for the implementation of the Kenya National Youth Policy. The Youth Congress is available and open for discussion on the subject matter.


[1] The National Youth Council Act, 2009 was assented to by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya on the 31st December, 2009 and subsequently published in the official Kenya Gazette on the 6th January, 2010 which is also its effective commencement date.

[2] Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of; Youth Affairs and Sports, Finance, Education and Internal Security and Provincial Administration

 

National Youth Council Election guidelines

Election Guidelines National Youth Council

Youth Agenda Statement on Kenya’s Ministry Of Youth Affairs ’s plan to hold sham elections for the National Youth Council Officials

In December 2009, President Mwai Kibaki assented to the enactment of the National Youth Council Act which was subsequently gazetted in January 2010.

This Act will bring in force a powerful body known as the Kenya National Youth Council whose mandate will be to co-ordinate all youth organisations, design and continuously review the National Youth Policy and develop an “integrated National Youth Development Plan” in collaboration with the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs. The Council will also act as an advisory, research and policy institution on youth affairs in the country. In essence the council shall be the Advocate, Connector and Enabler for young people in Kenya.

As it stands today, the National Youth Council has not been established. The Youth Agenda and other stakeholders has been at the forefront in advocating for a responsive Youth Council, we have also been vigilant in trying to ensure involvement, participation and representation of the youth constituency in the formation of the National Youth Council.

In pursuance of this, we have sent numerous communiqué to the Ministry of Youth Affairs seeking to promote youth participation in this process including a memorandum prescribing the manner in which the Youth Consortium wanted the election of the NYC officials conducted.    To date, the Ministry has silent on the matter and at times evasive while operating exclusive of the youth constituents the ministry is supposed to serve.

It has now come to our attention that the Ministry of Youth Affairs is planning to hold elections of the Youth Council on Wednesday 11th August from 10am. It is on this premise that we would like to raise the following:-

Our Concerns

1)      That, a majority of the Youth are not aware of the upcoming elections

2)      That, The elections might be used to rubber stamp a preselected committee

3)      If the elections are not held in a transparent and participatory manner, the Council will not have the legitimacy it needs in order to have impact and achieve its goals

Our Submission

In the spirit of transparency, openness and inclusivity we recommend the following to the ministry;

1.      That, the process be opened up at all levels for all the youth of this country

2.      That, based on the memorandum (dated 2nd June 2010) submitted to the Ministry of Youth Affairs by the youth consortium, the ministry must engage other stakeholders in the election process.

3.      That, if the National youth Council is to be responsive to and owned by the young men and women of the new Kenya, then the Ministry must involve the youth of this country in the process of establishing this council.

Seeing as this has not been done, we read malice into the ministry’s actions which are in bad taste. The ministry must and should remain accountable to its constituents and as such it should be prepared to face the backlash of stage-managed elections. These elections must be postponed to allow for awareness and participation of all the youth in this country.

Conclusion

It is our hope that the National Youth Council will have an active youth force serving in it; will be representative of all Kenyan youth including women, persons with disability as well as minorities groups; and that the appointing process will be transparent, fair and democratic.

Yours Sincerely,

Susan Kariuki
Act. Executive Director
The Youth Agenda YAA

Kenya’s Youth Council Bill is merely a means to keep the old guard on top

LegalKenya’s National Youth Council Bill 2009 came up for reading this week in parliament, though lack of quorum once again caused some delay. Though this should be cause for celebration for the country’s youth movement, several clauses illustrate the government’s inability to respect the needs and demands of Kenya’s youth.

Indeed the Bill is ambiguous even when it comes to the definition of who actually constitute the youth. In the Bill’s preliminary, the youth are termed as persons between fifteen and thirty years. However,the United Nations categorises youth as those between the ages of 15 to 24 years old. And for one to benefit from a loan from the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, one has to be between the ages of 18 to 35 years.

Then there is the issue of actual youth participation in the proposed Council. Section 5 of the Bill states that the Chairperson shall be appointed solely by the Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports. However, she need not even consult with youth groups when making her decision, so she could appoint a geriatric if she chose.

On further perusal of the clauses regarding the composition of the Council, it turns out that it is not only the Chair that could turn out to be old. Apart from the traditional practice of having permanent secretaries from the parent ministry and the Treasury in addition to the Attorney General (or an appointed proxy), the Minister also holds sole powers to appoint six other members to the Council. The clause once again does not insist on any consultation with youth groups, and also has no mention whatsoever of the age of these members.

Further, the Chief Executive of the Council can be as old as Methuselah as far as the Bill is concerned. This is the same officer who should serve as the face of the Council and be the voice of the youth to the Council members, yet the Bill omits to mention that they even need to form any liaisons with the country’s youth groups or have any prior experience in youth policy making.

The staff of the Council too do not have to be youth. And remember that it was only a few months ago when the retirement age of civil servants in Kenya was hiked up by five years to 65!  Seeing that the government claims to be striving to implement austerity measures, most likely the staff will be deployed from other government ministries; so who is to say that the Council offices will not be manned by 59 year olds? This in the same country where nearly 10% of the total population are unemployed youth, stinks of the same insensitivity government policies have had towards the Kenyan people.

The bid to control the youth through this reactionary document, also rises higher up in government echelons, not merely resting on the shoulders of the Minister of Youth Affairs. The President who himself is inching closer to 80 years holds the sole power to appoint the Chairperson of the proposed Advisory Board to the Council. This is the same person who oversaw the re-appointment of the oldest civil servant in Kenyan history back to the Kenya Airport Authority! Even scanning appointments to commissions and government agencies, it would be more in keeping to norm for the President to appoint someone over retirement age, this time not even having to consult with younger MPs let alone youth organisations themselves.

But there is a glimmer of light where the advisory board is concerned where the Minister of Youth (again!) has the power to appoint eight representatives of youth organisations. However, yet again the youth are locked out in getting extra seats on this board by the following factors:

  • Though one member must be nominated by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, to be a member one has be an association or a corporate entity and fork out at least Kshs. 5,000 (US$ 65). Youth entrepreneurs generally tend to be cash strapped, and thus more likely to be unable to even afford this sum, precluding them from such a nomination.
  • Including only the Commission of Higher Education to represent the education sector ignores the millions of youth who never had or will have the opportunity to benefit from tertiary education.
  • The National Economic and Social Council has a small minority of youth members, who once again only represent the creme de la creme of industry and financial services in the country. What about the informal sector entrepreneurs who form the majority of business activity in Kenya and employ 75% of Kenyans of working age?
  • Finally where are the nomination categories that will nominate members to press for the rights of rural and urban poor youth?

Even the experts that are supposed to advise the advisory board do not have to be youthful. To us, the best expert is the one that is living the life – the youth themselves!

Another toothless dog?

It seems that indeed this proposed Council is once again a PR gimmick of the government, a mere toothless poodle to appease and control the youth.  Under the Bill, the activities and mandates of the Council are only a duplication of what national youth movements have already being doing for eons. The proposed Council pales in comparison to the youth council in Rwanda, which even has enough power to elect members to the country’s Chamber of Deputies, the second chamber of parliament.

As Hon. Denis H. Obua MP of Uganda writing earlier in this same blog comparing the mainstreaming of youth policy in his country to that of Rwanda commented:

“My observation was that issues of the youth are given top priority by the Rwandan government.

Their youth councils are one of the best supported in Africa and the Ministry of Youth Affairs is considered one of the core ministries … But does the Rwandan government have more resources than Uganda’s? The answer is no, but issues of the youth attract top attention in Kigali”.- Govt crippling youth efforts to live better, November 21 2008

Though the Bill tries to ensure fresh talent by limiting the number of years one can sit on the Council or the Advisory Board to three years, a better limit would be to ensure that the main decision making powers rest with the youth membership, while the permanent secretaries and Attorney General’s representative act as advisers to ensure they act within mandate and the law. The maximum limit for the youth Council members can be either 30 or 35 years, after the Ministry of Youth finally settles on one age. After that the Council members should retire.

Also the powers of the Minister of Youth to hire and fire should be curtailed, by insisting that there should be some consultative process with the youth of Kenya, before embarking on such actions.

Notes from the bleachers at the National Youth Convention ’08

An extraordinary session of the The National Youth Convention opened yesterday at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. The theme of the largest gathering of Kenyan youth this year, was the reconstruction, reconciliation and reform.

Speeches by the organisers centered on the need for the youth to be more proactive in Kenya. Kenyan youth were accused of saying nothing when each election resulted in the appointment of leaders who do not have their best interests at heart. Now is the time to fix the wrongs of the past, the convention delegates were told. They were asked from now on, as leaders, to consider themselves as engines of change and to challenge the status quo.

Regarding entrepreneurship, nominated MP, Hon. Rachel Shebesh decried the slow pace of the National Youth Policy Draft being tabled in parliament seven months into the current parliament. She also advised the youth to be cautious about the proposed method of grassroot elections for the National Youth Council. Reminding the delegates of how the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake elections had in the past been manipulated by the political class, Shebesh told the youth to ensure that the election method would be inclusive and representative.

How can you have a Ministry with no  policy?

The governments commitment to improving the welfare of the youth was called into question.

The Youth Ministry was termed as being there solely for “PR” purposes. Being toothless, not only does it operate without any policy, but it is there to hoodwink Kenyans of the governments commitment to the youth. Furthermore, the same Youth Ministry does not even have the creation of jobs for the youth under its mandate.

The youth fund was also termed as a “shame”, which brought loud applause from the delegates. Many participants decried the fact that they had no access to the funds and were even unaware of the process to receive the funds. Some asked, why is the government force-feeding the youth to be entrepreneurs? Why spend all those years in school in order to be given Kshs. 10,000 to have a boda boda business?

Our view is that if the fund is going to make any real impact in the lives of youth entrepreneurs, it should:

  • ensure that ALL youth nationwide have access to information about the fund, skills on how to apply for the funds, and close access to the financial intermediaries.
  • The fund should not only target groups. That in our view is grossly disrespecting the youth of Kenya. As Hon. Kabando wa Kabando who was present at the convention said, repayment of loans was over 90%. That intimates that the youth are not out just to be given money and not pay it back. Why lie? Why should one have to go find other youths in order to be given a pepper corn amount that will only just barely put any enterprise on the ground? Why? …

Well, Hon. Raila Odinga who also attended said that the fund needs to be adressed. Kenyan youth entrepreneurs, let’s make sure it is!

Kenyan youth UNITE … in Obama-speak: YES WE CAN!