Youth Leadership Development Winter School Cultivates Integrity in Tomorrow’s Leaders

Story by Juliet Sithole

To shape the future of our communities, organisations and the continent, and in recognition that sustained success is grounded in integrity and honesty, Africa University in partnership with the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) hosted an impactful leadership development Winter School program, which attracted youths from the country’s 10 provinces from July 2-5, 2024.

The program was organised by the College of Business, Peace, Leadership, and Governance. The main thrust of this year’s Winter School was to promote integrity and foster a culture of honesty and value-based leadership among the youth — qualities that are indispensable for their personal growth and the betterment of society.

In his opening remarks, the Africa University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Engineer Talon Garikayi lauded the initiative and expressed gratitude to the partner organisations saying involving youths in the development of a better tomorrow bodes well with the Africa Union Agenda 2063, that of the Africa we want.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Engineer Talon Garikayi

“It is of paramount importance to safeguard the youth. In Africa today, they constitute almost 60%, hence they must occupy their space in transforming the continent for the better. I encourage you all to utilise the facilities and resources offered in this program. Use this opportunity to raise the spring cord of attaining higher ground on a personal level and for the betterment of the continent,” Prof Garikayi said.

A panel of esteemed leadership, business and ethical-oriented experts from different fields took turns to impart powerful insights in a series of presentations that included establishing a clear code of ethics, decision-making processes, positive behavioural interactions and the benefits of open communication.

The Executive Director for YETT, Mrs Rosewita Katsande, emphasised that the Winter School program is part of the Strengthening Institutions and Youth Agency in Zimbabwe (SIYA) initiative aimed at transforming communities, organisations and the world.

“This Winter School is one our organisation’s flagship programs, which prepares the youth to be future leaders of tomorrow. I am challenging everyone here to take advantage of this opportunity and maximise it for the advancement of society,” she said.

She expressed her satisfaction in having the program’s alumni serving in Civil Society Organisations, the business sector and the government. Mrs Katsande further added that participating in the program gave the youth an opportunity to interact and network with fellow peers, the corporate sector, as well as the academia.

“We are grateful and we acknowledge the partnership we have with Africa University running for some years now, as we ensure the youth become better persons,” she said.

One of the facilitators, Mr Tashinga Zamba said the program was designed to solve problems facing the youth today including corruption and limited participation in all activities that lead to a better tomorrow.

One of the faciliators – Mr Tashinga Zamba

“Our entry point to solving this is building integrity, which will in turn aid us in having institutions that are transparent and accountable,” he said.

Honesty and integrity are fundamental for efficient leadership. Demonstrating honesty not only upholds one’s integrity, but also sets a positive example for communities around them. Youth participants of the Winter School expressed gratitude for such an opportunity before committing to putting to full use, all the nuggets gained from the four-day long program.

“The leadership development program is equipping us with skills needed for us to lead with integrity and in fostering a culture of honesty. We are equipped with a mind-set and expertise to address complex glitches, stimulate responsible governance and drive sustainable development initiatives,” one of the youth participants and Catholic University of Zimbabwe’s Students Representative Council president, Wadzanai Gracious Nyakabau, said.

One of the youth participants – Wadzanai Gracious Nyakabau

The Zimbabwe Youth Council’s representative, Mr Clementine Murombo applauded the participants saying, “… out of 600 applicants, you qualified for this Winter School and this achievement is a testament to your ability and commitment to securing a brighter future. Such platforms provide a foundation for youth empowerment, which harness a sustainable world and brings a sense of accountability and transparency.”

He urged the youth to participate in government-related interfaces like the Budget meetings and the Bill hearings where issues that affect the youth are discussed. YETT sponsors the leadership development program for 35+ youth recruited from various youth groups throughout Zimbabwe. The program is augmented by workshops, team building, mentorship and networking opportunities with experts from various professional fields