Youths plan street demos over unemployment

The Zimbabwe Youth Forum congress slated for October 9 in Gweru is set to see youths spilling into the streets to express their impatience over unfulfilled government promises of 2.2 million jobs.

Welling Zindove: frustration among youths has reached boiling point.
Welling Zindove: frustration among youths has reached boiling point.

Wellington Zindove, Youth Forum National Coordinator, told The Zimbabwean the simmering frustration among youths because of government’s failure to appreciate what unemployment means had reached boiling point.

He said the congress would give youths since the opportunity to scrutinise the political environment and government policies that militated against their development. Their impatience for jobs would be transformed into legitimate action, he said.

Government maintains that unemployment in the country stands at around 11 percent, a view dismissed by Zindove and other youths as unfortunate and helpless propaganda.

“The fact that government insists that unemployment in Zimbabwe is not anywhere above 11 percent as suggested by ZIMSTAT, exposes government’s lack of knowledge regarding what unemployment is all about.

“If unemployment was that low, how could the government promise 2.2 million jobs to a nation that is almost 90 percent employed?” said Zindove, pointing out that a country with such low levels of unemployment as government want people to believe, would not have over 3 million of its citizens earning a living in the Diaspora.

Government should realise that graduates are surviving on street vending and piece jobs, said Zindove, and they are not doing that willingly and cannot be classified as workers.

He said for government to downplay the levels of unemployment in a country that had no meaningful economic activity was stretching youth’s patience too far.

According to Zindove, government should sanction youth protests for jobs as provided for in the constitution “as the nature of the country’s education system created workers not employers”.

“If government associates the demand for jobs with the so-called regime change agenda then we have a serious problem as a nation,” said Zindove, pointing out that the activities of non-governmental organisations cannot be regarded as regime change programmes.

As a build up to the congress ZYF conducted nationwide grassroots consultative meetings to share youths’ expectations and concerns. The meetings were attended by various Members of Parliament and other public officials, and participants observed that government could do better for the youth if it had its priorities in order.

The continued purchase of luxury vehicles for government officials and Members of Parliament was cited as one of the pointers to the government’s shortcomings.

According to Zindove, youths want transparency and accountability in activities such as the extraction of natural resources. They also called for seriousness and commitment towards the eradication of corruption in all sectors of the economy.

Before the end of this month, ZYF will present demands made by youths at the consultative meetings to the respective Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, the Finance and Economic Development Committee, Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Committee and the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Committee.

In its 2013 election manifesto Zanu (PF) promised 2.2 million jobs but more than a year down the line, nothing on the ground suggests the promise is being realised. Instead, hundreds of companies have shut down throwing thousands of workers onto the streets.

President Robert Mugabe has warned anyone against staging protests on the streets and vowed to set the riot police on those who dare to demonstrate. Following these threats, MDC-T Youth protests for jobs have been crushed by the police leaving dozens of the demonstrators either arrested or seriously injured.

On July 31, 2014 – exactly a year after Zanu (PF) came into power following the dispute election – the MDC-T Youth Assembly launched a series of nationwide protests to force government to honour the Zanu (PF) promise to create jobs. This was followed by three daring protests which resulted in running battles with police.

On August 18, 2014, six MDC-T youth were brutally assaulted by riot police during one of the protests. Though the protests were generally peaceful, police descended heavily on the defenceless youth.

Clifford Hlatshwayo, MDC-T youth spokesperson said they would not be cowed by state security agents. “Our demands are constitutional and out of national duty, so, we will continue venting our frustration and demands for jobs on the streets,” he said.

Observers said government should meet its Constitutional obligations including provision of jobs for the youth.

Post published in: News

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