Compiled by Ashlee Nhliziyo
The marginalization of young people is not a new phenomenon in Matabeleland North, especially in Lupane. Though endowed with natural resources from methane gas, flora and fauna, virgin lands, untapped coal to timber young people and women continue to live in abject poverty. The continued cycle of segregation excludes youths from, governing and making a living from natural resources.
Lack of capital capacity to compete for formalized opportunities has demotivated young people and in turn they revert to unsustainable harvesting and extraction of natural resources
The current natural resources governance structure does not favor direct participation of locals and youths are the most affected. This explains why we have Lupane Timbers Company situated in Harare and creating opportunities to non-Lupanians
Consultations are not narrow and not representative of all. Usually the consultation venues centrally locates those of privileged endowments and capacity to travel to consultation venues while the less privileged suffer from their incapacities to access natural resources. These consultations are done at Lupane Centre and those who are from peripheral areas are unable to share their voices
Villagers are criminalized for undertaking livelihood activities such as drilling boreholes and building schools in the so-called “Forestry-Land a case in point being ward 26 (Sothani). Young people also criminalized for harvesting dead wood for their household activities.
There is great potential for young people to benefit in future extraction of coal and methane gas in Lupane only if a more mutually agreed communities beneficial share structure is constructed”
For the past months, LUYDT has been actively involved in advocating for inclusive extraction and management of natural resources in the communities of Lupane through a project called “Resilience through Peaceful and Inclusive Relationships”- (REPAIR) project in partnership with Heal Zimbabwe Trust. The project sought to contribute to peace building in Lupane by fostering constructive interaction across lines of division, through the identification of collective community concerns about natural resources utilization and helping to prepare for meaningful engagement with local governing authorities.
Communities are incapacitated to contribute to more sustainable Environmental Impact Assessment documents and LUYDT intends to capacitate locals targeting mostly youths and women to participate
Young people of Lupane, expressed that they are advocating for increased accountability and transparency that can be only achieved by a more locally centric approach that prioritizes awarding opportunities to locals.Youths said there is need for policies and institutional strengthening aimed at addressing sustainability of natural resource harvesting. “We hope the ongoing distribution of devolution funds will promote the rights of communities to benefit from the natural resources. Youths and women are saddened by their lack of deep consultations in the governance of natural resources and doing so will help create a relationship of trust, transparency and engagement
A local centric approach in the governance and extraction of natural resources recognizes the constitutional rights of locals and will help increase benefit sharing and avoid turning Lupane into another resource cursed district.