Friday, 14 May 2021


Zanu PF MP for Chivi North Mathias Tongofa was on Thursday heckled during a youth summit held in Harare, with some of the participants accusing him of being “too old” to represent their interests in Parliament.

Tongofa (47), who is chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, is also former Youths deputy minister.

He was heckled at a regional summit organised by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust to map the roadmap for youth’s involvement in civic matters. Youth groups demanded representation by young legislators who fully appreciated their concerns.

“Is the current Minister of Youth (Kirsty Coventry) still considered a youth according to the Constitution and you chair? Are you saying there are no able-bodied youths available to represent us?” queried policy analyst Glen Dhliwayo.

“If we have six young MPs, one of them should be leading the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youths.”

In response, Tongofa said:“My goal before my term comes to an end is to add value to the inclusion and visibility of youths. If anyone here does not see my value, I am also okay with it.”

Tongofa said as much as the youths were pushing for 50/50 representation, they were also supposed to take cognisance of the fact that they would not remain young forever.

“If you demand 50% and the women are also demanding 50% of representation, then what is left? You should also remember you will grow old and there will be no portion left for you to be represented in Parliament,” he said.

“You do not solve anything by being angry, power is retained through negotiation where we have to take whatever we can get from our elders.

“We need to find a way to come to the table, both the young and the elderly so that we learn from each other. Young people must remember they will also age with time.”

Youth further argued that the 10 seats reserved for young legislators were not enough considering that they constituted the bulk of the country’s voting population.

Seke-Chikomba MP Tatenda Mavetere (Zanu PF) defended the election of older MPs to represent youth interests.

“Young people still need mentoring; there is no dismissal of the fact that there is a need for intergenerational dialogue to disseminate wisdom to the younger generation from the old.” Newsday


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