by Jussa Khudherezera
Realising their inherent right and power to influence the City’s development agenda, young people in Mutare turned out in their numbers to participate in the ongoing 2024 budget consultation at the city of Mutare Civic Centre. Youth participation in the local budget process is essential in fostering civic engagement and empowering young people to have a decision that directly impacts their communities.
A city budget represents the preferences and priorities of the government in a given period and is an influential management tool for achieving development objectives. Participants included young citizens from the media, Civic Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, university students and young graduates, the unemployed and women have turned out in their numbers to participate in 2024 budget consultation. City of Mutare together with Budget Committee have created inclusive platforms for all residents to participate in the process.
As young people have gained increasing prominence on the international development agenda, so too has the issue of their participation in decision making and Youth engagement in governance processes at local level to influence development that they aspire for in the city by ensuring that youth perspectives and voices are heard and considered as part of the local decision-making process.
Globally, there is increasing recognition that young people not only have the right to decide how resources are allocated, but that they also have valuable knowledge and viewpoints to bring to governance processes. They also learnt that citizens, including young citizens can involve themselves in participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking, monitoring public service delivery, lobbying and embarking on advocacy campaigns.
Some of the projects raised by the residents for the local council to consider are the issues of Education, health, water and street lighting. The execution and proper use of budgeted funds can be improved through social accountability. On the other end, citizens also have the responsibility of understanding the budget process as this helps them provide meaningful contributions to the process.
Several young people who attended the budget consultation process expressed gratitude to Manica Youth Assembly for organizing and creating platforms for youth involvement and participation in social, economic and political rights. This year there is an increase in the number of citizens participating in the budget process compared to previous years. However, there is still a need to improve not only the number of those participating but also the quality of inputs given by the citizens. It is the responsibility of every citizen to understand the budget process and fully participate. This then helps every citizen to not only appreciate their rights but also provide meaningful contributions to the process. Having understood the overall process in general, it then becomes even more significant to properly articulate how each demographic group such as the vulnerable and how best to advocate for the promotion and protection of their rights through an inclusive budget.