EF Filling the Youth Gap in Leadership

BULAWAYO – While in the past Council was a preserve for the elderly, this is however no longer the case today as young people are now also seeing the need to get involved in local governance, where democracy begins.

One daring youth who has defied the odds is Rodney Jele (pictured above), turning 30 this year, who is a councillor for Bulawayo’s Ward 22.

The ward for the young man, who came into office in 2013, when he was 26, covers the areas of Bullet, Sekusile and Manemo shopping centres, all in Nkulumane Township.

“As a young person I felt that there was a gap, obviously from the past when old people were leading us in the community, “Jele told ZDDT News.

“I thought that I should cover that gap in a sense, and now that there is a young person as a councillor, views of young people can be aired even in Council or wherever. Basically, that’s what pushed me to become a councillor.”

Jele, a beneficiary of ZDDT’s leadership trainings, says he has learnt a lot from many workshops facilitated by the trust.

“These ZDDT workshops really made me grow as an individual and made me have the capacity to lead the people as a young person, obviously,” he said with a contented smile.

Born on September 16 in 1987 in Luveve, Bulawayo, Jele attended Baines Junior School for his primary education.

Upon his completion of grade 7, Jele relocated to Nkulumane, where he resides to date.

The focused community leader also attended North Lea High School, after which he enrolled for an Automotive Engineering course at Westgate Vocational Training Centre also in the City of Bulawayo.

Jele, who actively participates in all Council activities, including the monthly full Council meetings, admitted leadership is not without challenges.

“The biggest challenge that I am facing in the community is lack of community participation, which is very low,” he said.

“The community does not participate in some of the issues which are critical in decision-making.”

He said to counter that, the Bulawayo City Council tries to make sure that the information about the city’s development agenda gets to everyone through various media platforms.

“We have various platforms where we disseminate information to residents so that even those people who do not come to the meetings become aware of what is happening,” explained Jele.

He said despite the challenges, his vision is to have a well-developed ward with facilities such as youth centres.

The promising future leader currently chairs the Audit Committee and also sits on the Water and Finance Committees.