Official Opening Remarks by Ms. Phendulile A. Zikalala (Eswatini)

the Co-Chair of Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYoF-SADC)

12 August 2020, Mozambique

Representatives of SADC Secretariat, Representative of the Member States of SADC, Youth Councils, The SAYoF-SADC-Regional Executive, Director SADC-CNGO, Our Partners, 2NDSADC Youth Forum Committee Members, Representatives from all Regional Organisations, Youth Organisations, Young People from Africa and other Regions, Members of the Business, the Church, the Trade Unions, CSOs Representatives and Honourable Members of the 2ND SADC Youth Parliament, all Protocols observed.

The Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYoF-SADC), the primary convener of the SADC Youth Forum and SADC Youth Parliament is an official coordinating body for youth and youth organizations in the SADC region, youth representative in the SADC-CNGO, the Africa Focal Point in United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY) and appointed by Africa Union (AU) to be part of the Africa Youth Front on Covid-19 a high-level policy and advocacy framework by the Africa Union (AU) for young people to co-lead Africa’s response to Covid-19.

The 2nd SADC Youth Forum is scheduled for Mozambique, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the 2020 Forum will be held virtually. The theme for the 2020 Forum is; Catalysing Youth Agency in Regional Processes: Our Future Starts Today. The SADC Youth Forum is expected to be attended by more than 1500 young people and stakeholders from 16 SADC Countries; contributing to various sessions. The SADC Youth Forum is an annual event hosted before the SADC Heads of States and Government Summit to deliberate on critical issues affecting young people and proffer sustainable solutions in the region. The 2nd SADC Youth Forum is coming after a successful First Addition hosted in Tanzania in 2019. The youth who constitute more than 60 percent (%) of the total population in the SADC region are important players in the development of the region and their demographic dividend must be harnessed. This year’s forum is starting on 12 August which is International Youth Day. The International Youth Day is themed, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”

The forum has attracted high-level speakers from the region, including Deputy Minister Emma Theofelus from Namibia, leaders of Youth Councils, from Africa Union, World Bank, Development partners, Policy Makers, Researchers, Business Experts, Young people from vulnerable communities, and youth organizations, change makers, students, universities among other.

The Forum which is scheduled from 12 to 14 August 2020 is starting today with the SADC Youth Parliament with 80 young people from 16 SADC Countries discussing solution-oriented approaches that will feed into the SADC Youth Forum outcomes. The 2020 SADC Youth Parliament Theme is dubbed, “Born into Debt; Young People’s Future Under Threat”

The outcomes for the three-day SADC Youth Forum will be shared with the Young people in SADC, SADC Secretariat, Heads of States & Government, Member States, CSOs, Regional Organisations, Partners, Africa Union, UN, and other stakeholders for action. The young people and youth organizations will also take the outcomes for implementation at a country level and influence policy direction.

Ahead of the Forum, I want to salute various Thematic Committees composed of young people from SADC; who were selected after a rigorous process of application; who came together to prepare for the SADC Youth Forum, and these youth leaders are actively taking part as members in different committees such as the: SADC Youth Forum Committee, SADC Youth Parliament, Health (Including Covid-19) Committee, Governance, Policy, and Political Inclusion Committee, Environment and Climate Change Committee, Education, Science, and Technology Committee, Gender Committee, Peace and Security (Migration and Transitional Justice) Committee, Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Media and Communication Committee and Disability Committee. To all young people gathered today, we are champions and we can change the region towards a youth-friendly SADC. Don’t forget to share something on social media using #SADCYouth and #SADCYouthForum

I would like to take this opportunity to officially open the 2nd SADC Youth Forum 2020.

I thank you.