Youths as Victims of Election Promises and Lies?

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In the run up to the 31 July 2013 elections, the main political parties in Zimbabwe, namely  Zanu PF and the two MDCs  were in great competition for the youth vote.  This came to be seen by many analysts as a confirmation that the votes of young Zimbabweans had the potential of being the game changer for the harmonized elections.

While historically Youths have always generally been used to murder, intimidate as well as harass political opponents  during the July 2013 elections, things appeared somewhat different.  The political parties made promises that included ownership of mines, creation of employment; access to empowerment funds via the Youth Council as well as residential stands.


During the run up to the elections Zanu had the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policy as its lifeline.  It also promised to decriminalize gold panning, as well as setting aside jobs for youths in non-performing economic sectors. As a counter to these policies, the MDC-T engaged in Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and Environment (JUICE) which was mainly presented as being meant to curb the skyrocketing levels of unemployment.

With one year gone after the elections it  would appear that political parties have nothing to offer to the impoverished youths in the country. This is evidenced by most policy pronouncement by the parties be they in central or local government or be they ruling or opposition parties. Scores of youths interviewed by this reporter expressed agony over the manner in which politicians have taken youths for a ride in a bid to gain votes.

“The only time that politicians remember us is when they seek for our votes and once the electoral period is over you never get to hear anything concerning  the youths,” said  Tapiwa Mutema, a youth  who hails from Mvuma , adding that it is  only during the electoral period youths will be the centre stage.

Another youth who identified himself as Kim, who hooked with this reporter while wondering up and the now destroyed Ximex mall said that youths in the country have for the past years been used to settle political scores.

“Once political scores have been settled youths are then dumped out of the equation, look at the upfumi kuvadiki scheme which disappeared once the elections were over,” said Kim.

Mildred Chiuswa, a university graduate  echoed the above sentiments when she revealed that youths are tired of election gimmicks in which they are promised greener pastures just because of  election campaigns.

Alson Darikai, the President of the Zanu PF affiliated  Youth Economic Empowerment Support group is confident that his party will implement its promises so as to carter for the needs of the youths. He said, ‘They have toured the country as part of the fulfillment of electoral promises.”

MDC-T youth spokesperson, Clifford Hlatywayo revealed that JUICE will be implemented once the MDC comes to power.

“Currently we don’t have the powers to implement our policies because we don’t have anyone in the executive to push for our policies. Once we come to power we will formalize the informal sector so as to curb the skyrocketing levels of unemployment amongst the youths,” said Hlatywayo.

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Opinion: A Weakened Opposition Damages Zimbabwean Democracy

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The once vibrant opposition movement in the country, which came close to overthrowing Zanu PF in the much contested 2008 elections, has beyond doubt weakened and this has left scores of people questioning its ability to challenge the more than three  decade rule enjoyed by Zanu PF.

The overwhelming victory by Zanu PF in the previously held elections seems to have posed a huge blow to the opposition parties which are now evidently struggling to deal with their controversial defeat.Furthermore , the opposition has compounded their weakness  by virtue of their  recent power struggles as evidenced by the all but formal split of the MDC-T.On the other hand the new parties such as the NCA are struggling with local government by elections, a clear sign that the parties are either not well organized or are inexperienced.

The internal fights within the MDC-T  have caused the party to dwell on nothing else serve for attempts to resolve succession issues. . These internal fights have left thousand of Zimbabweans clueless as to what next for opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

Donors have since started pulling out of the already weakened MDC –T which is a major blow to the opposition movement. On the other hand the renewal team led by Tendai Biti is failing to mobilise supporters as evidenced by the fewer number of supporters who attend their meetings.

While the opposition parties are struggling, Zanu PF has already started to organise its structures from ward level amid the 2018 presidential elections.  The ‘revolutionary  party ’  has already started mobilizing  people in  the rural areas,  a move which might  see the party  continuing  to rule.

All the other political parties that sprung after the July 31 elections including the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Mthwakazi Republic Party and the Zimbabwe Youth Council have also fallen in the brackets of the main opposition  parties.

Opposition parties often sprout a few months before elections which raises questions about their capacity and ability to initiate change or proffer long term alternative leadership for Zimbabweans.

While the MDC-T  is the only party that came close to removing Zanu Pf from power in 2008, its divisions make this one-time possibility appear to be a pipedream.   Especially if the power struggles are not resolved.

As it stands, it still remains that Zanu PF is powerful and has the muscles to continue dominating the political circles.However the birth of many political parties might provide a chance for political diversity a situation in which Zimbabweans will have a wide range of choices on which party to vote for.


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Informal Sector Preying on the Technologically Ignorant.

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Technology is beginning to affect everything from communication to entertainment to our own convenience. We are increasingly inter-connected with our iPhones, laptops, Facebook and Twitter.

Zimbabweans, particularly those in urban areas,   can’t imagine living life without our cell phones and social media.  And as the technology advances,  we are constantly adapting and adopting these relatively new mobile phone inventions into our everyday lives.

Many people in Zimbabwe however have a tendency of overlooking the improving social media applications on mobile phones because they are ignorant of their more convenient and less costly uses.  The reality is that these new applications available on phones eventually  do matter as is now the case with Whatsapp, Facebook and increasingly so, Twitter.

When they do decide to use them, most middle aged men and women, in their rush to catch up with fashionable communication trends tend to get duped by the new informal sector ancillary service providers for mobile phones.  Especially for smart phones.


Swindled Due to Ignorance of Mobile Phone Technology Cloning

 One victim of these new informal service providers is Mr. Tinashe Mudzengi. He was conned by a cellphone dealer who  exchanged his original Samsung S4 smart phone with a fake one. The cellphone was sent to him by his brother who is in the United Kingdom. Such phones will be locked according to their networks and unless it’s reformatted, one cannot use it Zimbabwe.

Mudzengi decided to take the phone with him for it to be fixed of which he was referred to a specialist in the field who works near Zimpost post office. He was charged $80 for the service and instructed that it will take about close to an hour for the restoration of the gadget and that’s where he lost it.


When he returned he was overexcited that his phone had been fixed and took it home not knowingly the cellphone has been swindled for an imitation one. Incidentally these imitation mobile phones have flooded the Zimbabwean mobile phone market. After using the phone for some days he found out that its battery was not lasting so he decided to change it with the spare battery that his original cellphone had come with but to his surprise it could not switch on the cellphone.

Upon returning to Harare Post Office, the person who had formatted his original phone was said to no longer be based there.  Mr. Mudzengi then approached another mobile phone dealer who advised him that he was now in possession of a cloned mobile phone and not the original. He was stunned when he checked for the devices serial numbers which did not correspond with that of the original phone and that is the moment he did know that he was duped.

In total Mudzengi lost his Samsung galaxy S4 smartphone valued at $650 and also the $80 which he paid for the service rendered to him which equaled to $730.


These clone or imitation devices have also been sold to many unsuspecting clients who have been misled that they will be purchasing original ones at a price near to cost of original versions.


View of Informal Mobile Phone Service Traders and Analysts

Simbai Tsikai a former Ximex Mall second hand cellphone dealer said these fake devices had helped them to get more money than they have desired for.


“Some people are technologically shy to the extent that they cannot even tell the differences between a fake cellphone and an original and as a matter of fact we will utilize that chance for us to make money on them,” he said.

He added that the Imitation cellphones are made in such a way that they resemble the original gadget and it will need one to have a sound background of technology and a closer look.

Zibbie Mukwauri, a Harare polytechnic Information Technology student also added that the imitation devices look so real that with people’s ignorance they are so easily deceived.

“Unlike the imitation phones of many years ago, the ones that you can purchase now look very similar to the models that they are based on. And not only that, but in some cases, clones can even surpass the original in terms of features (which is quite confusing),” he said

Whatsapping away your $3-$5

 Midlands State University (MSU) student Tanaka Nyamande also added that many people are capitalizing on the lack of knowledge of people regarding the technology and its negativities.

“I witness a lot of people in town being duped of their hard earned money by silly things such as whatsapp and internet settings installation which can be easily done at home or by mobile phone network operators at free of charge,” he said.

These people charge between $3to$5 for this simple service and women are the most targets to this glitch.With the ever changing trends in technology there has been a lucrative expansion of counterfeit products.

Samsung having become the world’s biggest smart phone manufacturer but has also been also the hard hit by imitations.

Be Careful Buying an Android smartphone such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 should be a fairly straightforward endeavor. But the fact that there are fake handsets floating around makes things slightly more difficult.

The differences between real and fakes ones seem to be getting fewer and fewer with each generation. But it should always be possible to avoid buying fake units if you know what to look for.

As a final reminder, always be wary of a phone that’s being sold with a markedly lower price tag than its current market value, also look for camera qualities as well as inbuilt memory which is not normally include in imitation devices.

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“Banning of Kombis Will Be Problematic.” Say Operators, Passengers

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Transport is essential to the economic development of many countries around the globe hence the responsible authorities must ensure the smooth running of the sector so that it remain viable.

The issue of congestion has been a major issue in most parts in Harare, which has seen an increase in the number of road accidents and delays in passengers to reach their respective work stations.

The million dollar question, many people would want to know is what the responsible authorities are doing to address the problem of both congestion on Harare’s roads as well as issues of public transport safety.

Recently the Minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development, Obert Mpofu announced that government intends to ban Kombis. The main reason he gave for this policy action that his ministry is convinced that kombis are the major cause of congestion in the capital city’s Central business District (CBD).  He intends to replace them with metro buses to be acquired by government from China through a private transport consortium. This is not a new phenomenon with the government of Zimbabwe which has acquired buses from China which the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) has been using for decades with limited improvement on the challenge of congestion.


Many of the ZUPCO buses are grounded due to miss management and there is yet to be announced reasons why the acquisition of Metro buses will be any different.

Kombi driver Moffat Mandokwa pirating Chitungwiza-Harare said banning of Kombis is not a remedy in decongesting our roads.

“If Kombis are banned totally it will solve nothing especially at a time like this where unemployment rate is very high.

“Kombis are paying up their royalties to the city council and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) raises most of its operational money from spot fines,” he said

Lloyd Mashiri a passenger lambasted the idea of banning Kombis saying the move is not welcome while citing the lack of flexibility of buses compared to kombis.

“Congestion is not caused by commuters, our roads have now became death traps and very narrow to accommodate the ever increasing volume of traffic.

“The responsible authorities need to copy from other nations like South Africa where the roads are clearly in good condition,” said Mashiri.

In a statement via email, the City of Harare spokesperson said it was busy building kombis holding bays along Coventry road. He further went on to say that City of Harare was to blame as it had noticed the volume of vehicle population grow without widening the roads.

“Raised motorways are part of the solution but it was not included in the capital budget for this year, our target is also to install solar traffic lights but out of the targeted 68 we have managed to install 18,” said Mr. Leslie Gwindi in a written statement.

On a different note ZRP is also to blame on congestion as it can be clearly witnessed on the way they are manning roadblocks. Travelling from Highfields to town a distance of 18 km takes 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes due to road blocks on the way.

We can take example from our neighbor country South Africa to get an idea on how they managed to decongest their roads. South Africa has been embarking on the construction of freeways and flyovers a as a strategy against congestion for all forms of road transport.

Instead of banning kombis local authority must make sure that operators should go to fixed routes and having different registered number plates for specific routes. Road maintenance has been neglected leaving most roads as death traps due to gullies, which has been impacting negatively when it comes to congestion and road carnage.


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Linkages, Differences Between Zimbabwe’s Rural and Urban Youth

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No matter the age range, youth implies a group of young people in a society who have a lot of energy, new ideas, and new ways to see life and face problems.

Zimbabwe has witnessed general differences between  rural and urban youth livelihoods. Be they in the form of  not only geographic location but also in relation to access to basic social services such as education, healthcare also employment.

The geographic location has largely been the greatest difference between the lifestyles and livelihoods of rural and urban young Zimbabweans. This is as a direct result of the historically legacy of underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural areas where access to services is much more limited or less concentrated than in the urban. It is a developmental disparity that has led to continued rural-urban migration of young Zimbabweans in search of better life changing job opportunities or access to life improving services.This also extends to the social lifestyles of the two demographic groups.

Nelvin Katsoka an urban youth who resides in Hatfield Harare, visits his family home in Guruve frequently and has witnessed that young people in that rural area get married earlier than their peers in urban zones thus becoming active in adult responsibilities before the urban youth.

“Most rural youth also become labourers at the age of 12, serving in tobacco farms for minimal wages of at least 3 to 5 dollars per day spent in the field(maricho)to cater for their family needs”, said Nelvin.

While visiting my relatives in Murehwa, I also observed that the rural youth practice almost the same method of earning cash that is engaging in cash crop production mainly tobacco growing while those not interested in agriculture engage in brick laying.Limited service delivery by rural district councils and failure to develop infrastructure has been a major setback.

During an interview with the urban youth, most of them could not really say what differentiate themselves from the rural youth.  Most of the responses were about how the urban claim to have “swagg”.

Such statements may be attributable to ignorance or alternatively a disdain by urban youths for the lifestyles and experiences of the rural youth. Youth activist Tawanda Moyo stated that as an urban youth ,he is advanced in terms of technology and things that he values.

 “ Urban youth nowadays want to own technological things like laptops, tablets and iphones”, said Tawanda.

He also went  on to say that because the technological gap is becoming small   due to the availability of network providers in most parts of Zimbabwe, some rural youth now have smart phones.

In some cases rural  youth are conscious of social sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp that are used frequently by many of Zimbabwe’s urban young. While rural youth favors phones that can play use memory cards to record and play music.

Music is therefore the one thing that ties the urban and rural youth.  Both are interested in the recently set up new genre of Zimbabwean dance-hall music. It is however evident that the challenges faced by rural youth though  much more daunting are no different from those in the urban.  The major differences between the two is essentially a lack of infrastructure and limited opportunities for access to social services and communication.

However the bigger challenges that affect both urban and rural youth remain the same across the board. Namely, unemployment, lack of opportunities to pursue careers of their choice and poverty.

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Its a Tough Life for University Students in Zimbabwe.

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With the popular belief that education is the key to success and good life, one wonders whether going to a University in Zimbabwe is still ideal given the financial constraints students undergo.

Many challenges are faced by students during and after their period of study at universities. These include struggling to pay for tuition fees through to accommodation and food or general upkeep. This then tends to force them to resort to any available means or sadly having no choice but to drop out of university altogether.

For those that manage to painstakingly complete their studies, a new worry becomes what to do with their degrees after graduation due to lack of employment opportunities. This has in part led to some graduates pursuing basic survival economic activities such as vending and cross border trading. In even worse circumstances, students resort prostitution while others feel that they have no option but to leave for neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana to search for hard to find work.

To give examples of the hardships aced by students I did a preliminary survey and I found that indeed the situation is dire.
Early this year, undergraduate parallel and masters students at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) went for almost three weeks, while preparing for exams, without attending lectures as lecturers went on strike for not being paid their salaries for part time students. The institution at that time stated that the failure to pay lecturers was due to part time students owing the university about US$1.3 million, which shows how much students are struggling to pay fees.

At the Great Zimbabwe University, it appears that there are some students who have turned to the world oldest profession in order to raise fees. “Some girls engage in prostitution so they can get a good living and money for fees,” said a student from Great Zimbabwe University, Precious Maseko.”Some of the money they use to buy food and clothes.”

Such means of finding money have led to increases in the rate of HIV/AIDS in the country with high learning institutions having the highest rate.

However some students manage to get part time jobs during their course of study but that has not been easy on them.

“It’s difficult to balance school and work at the same time,” said a student from one of the local universities, Progress Matunzwa. “Also at times we go for a number of months without being paid because of economic situations but school authorities expect their fees to be paid on time.”

In institutions like Midlands State University rents costs between $240 and $270 per semester excluding food on top of an average fees of about $600. Other institutions like the NUST charge rents of about $450 per semester on campus and about $80 per month on private residents plus an average of $600 per semester depending on programs and transport money.

Long ago, students from high school could get temporary teaching posts to help them to proceed to universities. However currently temporary teaching posts are being offered to degree and certificate holders, worsening the financial situation for new students. Not every graduate or certificate holder makes it to the list of successful temporary teachers.

After graduation, some companies require employees with years of experience disadvantaging graduates without experience from getting the job, but one wonders where to get that needed experience to get a job if companies don’t give them a hands-on chance.

A student from University of Zimbabwe, Nkosi Moyo said, “Zimbabwe has to provide a policy that makes it a must for companies to provide part time jobs not only on attachment, but to help them gain some experience such that by the time they finish their degrees they are up to standard because if you employ people that know what is expected of them you will improve in many ways.”

Universities should also motivate students, through entrepreneurship courses and workshops, to start their business projects so that they create new job opportunities, helping them financially rather than to rely on being employed.

Some students suggested that government should provide them with grants or create ways that will allow them to finish paying their fees after graduations.

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