At least 400 young people are expected to take part in the inaugural Youth Pitso, billed for the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) tomorrow (Monday).
Held under the theme “It’s our time,” the two day event will focus on issues that concern and affect the lives of young people in the country. Among participants at the Pitso will be Cabinet ministers, political youth leaders as well as other influential stakeholders across the economic and social spectrum.
Speaking in interviews with Sunday Standard, various youth leaders expressed delight at the opportunity to take part in the event.
“We have lots of input we want to make at the Pitso. While we are happy with the theme, we also feel at the same time that it should be translated into reality, not just a song,” said Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) President, Kagiso Ntime.
Ntime says while they will be going into the Pitso with open minds, they would be delighted if it can be used as a forum to debate issues affecting the youth, not just to be told what people think.
He says also coming into the Pitso, they will be hoping for explanations from the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture on some issues which they feel to be addressed.
For Ntime, issues that need to be addressed will include, among others, the ‘death’ of the Youth Parliament, which he says was a platform of youth to debate youth related issues.
He said other issues that will need the minister’s explanation will be on the Government and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) constituency league saga as well as what he termed the ‘circuses’ at the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).
Ntime says they will also like the Pitso to discuss issues of education, which involve the current examinations saga.
For his part, the chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party Youth League, Monare Bontsi, says their priority issue will be on youth participation in the economy. He says while there is an effort to get young Batswana involved in the mainstream economy, there is still more effort needed to get them involved.
He says the youth have to participate in the economy and have input in creating employment. Bontsi says another issue they would like to bring to the Pitso table will be on health issues.
He says while the fight against HIV/AIDS is ongoing, there is complacency among the local youth on the issue which he says has now been relegated only to AIDS day on December 1.
He hailed the initiative of the youth Pitso saying he calls upon the youth to share and harness their ideas to take the country forward.
Commenting on the Youth Pitso, the Secretary General of the Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL), Oarabile Motlaleng, says the Pitso comes at the right time when they have had several issues they want to discuss.
Just like his BNFYL counterpart, Motlaleng says education will be among their priority issues, with the current examination saga and the current curriculum leading.
Another issue, he says, concerns the rampant unemployment, which he says could have been curbed by employing a lot of Batswana and not foreigners in the current infrastructural projects like dams and roads construction.
The BCPYL Secretary General says they have also been trying to engage the ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture on the constituency tournaments saga. He says they will also seek clarity on Youth Parliament and what he termed politicising of the BNYC.
All the youth leaders across the political divide expressed hope that political differences will have to be set aside if the Pitso is to be successful in articulating the issues affecting young Batswana. They say finding a common thread and one voice is possible as shown by the current committees in parliament, which are made of different party legislators.