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Over the years, youth participation in local decision-making across Africa has been minimal, despite the existence of enabling human rights frameworks on youth participation as well as institutions such as junior councils. This research aimed to compare the efficacy of Zimbabwe’s urban and rural junior councils in enhancing youth participation in local governance, which in turn would promote reform of the current participation frameworks, the realisation of children’s rights and ultimately productive community development. This paper is a product of qualitative research, combining desk research and key informant interviews with 22 council and ministry officials as well as eight focus group discussions with sitting and former junior councillors in Harare, Bulawayo, Bindura, Mutare, Masvingo, Rushinga, Makonde and Mbire. It was found that junior councils lacked adequate funding and technical support, resulting in tokenistic participation in local governance. Their legal status is unclear as both government ministries and local governments claim ownership. The research findings suggest that junior councils could be strengthened through the enactment of a specific legal framework to regulate their activities.
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