Reduce retirement age to tackle youth unemployment

Recently, the Ministry of Defence working in consultation with the Defence Forces Commission, recommended amendment to the Defence Act, which will now see soldiers retiring at the age of 50 years down from the previous age of 60 years, unless if one has been asked to continue serving at the recommendation of the Defence Minister.

Zivai Mhetu - Zinasu National Spokesperson

Zivai Mhetu – Zinasu National Spokesperson

Given the extremely high level of unemployment prevailing in our country which is affecting youths more than any other demographic group, the government should extend reduction of the retirement age to all ministries, parastatals and other institutions that operate under its purview in order to free up jobs for youths.

The government is the biggest employer in the country with a civil service consisting of more than 350 000 employees; if it reduces the retirement age from 65 to 45 it will be able to free up thousands of jobs for youths.
Of course there is also the issue of ghost workers, particularly those in the ministry of youth, indeginization and economic empowerment, which needs to be dealt with in order to create jobs for youths but the reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 45 is also an important measure that the government needs to consider if it is serious about addressing youth unemployment.
I know reducing the retirement age to 45 years seems a bit extreme but drastic times call for drastic measures.
While youth unemployment is a global phenomenon the situation in Zimbabwe is not normal because of an extremely high unemployment rate which is well over eighty percent.
Unemployment of young people in Zimbabwe has created a huge chasm of economic inequality between youths and those belonging to the older generation that can only be reduced by deliberate government policies to lessen the gap such as the reduction of the retirement age from 65 years to 45 years so as to give youths a chance to catch up with older generations in as far as economic stability is concerned.
The government has introduced a lot of policies to redress economic imbalances such as the land reform and the indeginization policy; reduction of the retirement age to 45 years as a measure to improve the economic status of youths by retiring older generations who have already managed to acquire basic assets fits in well among the cocktail of redistributive policies currently being implemented by the government. Whether redistributive policies implemented by the government so far are having a positive impact on the country or not is a matter for another day.
The danger with leaving things as they are is that disgruntlement among youths is fermenting everyday like a brew of ‘7 days’ traditional beer to form an explosive concoction of discontent and dissatisfaction whose ramifications will only be fully known after it blows up in the faces of politicians who are using an ostrich strategy to address youth unemployment – that of ignoring a problem with the hope that it will go away on its own.
In comparison to citizens of older generations, very few youths own businesses or properties such as houses.
In fact the majority of today’s youths live in houses owned by their parents who managed to acquire assets before Zimbabwe was hit by a cataclysmic economic crisis.
It is only reasonable that the government makes a concerted effort towards addressing the plight of the biggest demographic group in the country which has the least number of people that are successful economically because youths have the potential to cause political instability in the country.
The generosity of the social security and retirement systems in Belgium in the late nineties promoted early retirement in that country such that by 2001, Belgium was in the leading group of European countries with respect to early retirement.
Zimbabwe needs to take that route in order to reduce youth unemployment in addition to reducing the retirement age from 65 to 45 years through amendment of the Labour Act. Despite the fact that it is resulting in little employment for youths, the current retirement age is not in line with the depressed life expectancy in Zimbabwe resulting in a situation whereby the majority of citizens are dying before reaching the retirement age. As a result, they fail to enjoy their benefits.
Zivai Mhetu
(Zinasu National Spokesperson) 
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Post published in: Opinions