BY BYRON MUTINGWENDE
The economy of Zimbabwe has been plagued by economic problems that have left the youths jobless and unproductive, Professor Hope Sadza has said.
Sadza made the remarks at a graduation ceremony in youth leadership training organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Zimbabwe that was held at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare last Friday.
The founder of Women’s University in Africa who is also Vice-Chancellor at the institution said the treatment of youth in all spheres of life was a cause for concern. She bemoaned the fact that youths are generally treated as a group that is content with theoretical and public recognition of their grievances yet they were innovative.
“What then is demanded from the youth in order to have their concerns addressed? Youth should personify energy, enthusiasm, morality, diligence and become torch bearers that lead the process of development.
“The youth graduate into adult if and when they attain economic independence. The economy of Zimbabwe has been plagued by economic problems which are characterized by high unemployment, declining industry capacity utilization, business closures, leaving the youth without jobs or getting into productive areas. What this brings is poverty which will make them fail to actively participate in the socio economic transformation,” Sadza said.
The educationist said the Millennium Development Goal on poverty eradication can be achieved by the youth since they occupy the greatest number in the population of Zimbabwe – making them a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation.
The youth of Zimbabwe have been at the forefront of political change since pre-colonial times. As such they have a significant footprint on the political landscape. Having taken part in building the nation, youths were urged to take part in building stable and sustainable economies based on equity.
“This means the youth need to take part in economic development. Pro-poor economic policies should be enhanced to grow the economy and empower masses. It is the responsibility of youth leaders in first of all articulating, promoting and implementing policies and programmes that carry the aspirations of the nation of Zimbabwe.
“Youth should be encouraged towards full utilization of talents which are developmental catalysts forming the springboard for national development.”
Minister of youth development, indigenization and economic empowerment Patrick Zhuwawo weighed in by saying the youth should know their purpose and desired destiny.
“The youth should define themselves, know themselves, their capacities, strengths and build the important pillars of the country’s prosperity. It is the role of the youth to keep the nation together, to make the citizens feel good and proud of the country,” Zhuwawo said.
Zhuwawo said finding new ways to integrate youth into the workforce is critical to addressing persistent youth unemployment and job instability.
“To improve outcomes for young adults and business, a broad group of stakeholders – employers, educational institutions, government, and philanthropy – need to support and make changes on both the supply and demand sides of the labour market,” Zhuwawo said.
He urged the youth to come up with fundraising and resource mobilization strategies as well as innovative ideas to resuscitate the economy.
However, the youth are grappling with limited access to socio economic opportunities, misalignment of their skills and limited funding opportunities for youth enterprises.
FES Zimbabwe resident director Brigitte Juchems said there was need to redefine support to the youth sector to include non-financial services such as mentorship and entrepreneurial training as well as engage the corporate world to support the youth employment agenda through mentorship.
One of the graduates, Pride Mkono said the government legislation must enforce national youth policy objective to create equal opportunities for all young women who are traditionally hindered by culture from accessing opportunities.
He said there was need for the youths to fully acquaint themselves with the revised National Youth Policy, the Youth Council Act and the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET).
The FES youth training course provided them with essential leadership skills and the ability to appreciate and address issues of local, regional and international politics and economics. It also provided the youths a safe space to practice their skills in an environment that respects and appreciates different political persuasions.
It also gave them the opportunity to create a network of collaborators from the different sectors of society and a variety of political views to become the future leaders in politics, business and society of Zimbabwe.