Zimbabwe Youth Sector
by Misheck Gondo
The participation of youth in Zimbabwe can be traced to the time before independence, young people playing a liberation role. After attaining independence in 1980, the post-war government made remarkable steps to institute a ministry responsible for youth and also it was led by a young woman. However, the institutional establishment did not translate to the practical empowerment of young people who now constitutes 67 percent of the total population. The growing poverty in the new millennium, lack of opportunities, limited academic freedoms, unemployment, drug abuse, exorbitant health care, human rights abuse and shrinking civic space has epitomized modern-day Zimbabwe; with young people absorbing the brunt of economic collapse. The National Constitution, Section 20 which is within the Africa Union Youth Framework; provides for the effective participation of youth in political, social, economic and cultural affairs of the country. To celebrate the 2nd National People ‘s Convention hosted by the Citizens Manifesto, this paper introduces key fundamentals and solution-oriented interventions on the role of youth in the political economy of Zimbabwe. The paper uses the Youth Development Model (YDM) that spells out the four-lens approach and seven key principles of youth development. Given the contextual reality, the paper argues that practical youth development must involve youth themselves, dealing with institutional deficiencies, and human development must form part of Zimbabwe ‘s conversations. The paper also suggests that human development should be done through, the transformation of the education system to promote innovation, enacting policies that enable youth development, preserving space for collective action and organizing, locating dialogue on the future of work or the decent work and social justice agenda.
Keywords: Youth, Inclusion, Zimbabwe, Participation, Policies, Citizen ‘s Convention, Agency Executive Summary
The youth bulge phenomenon, prevalent in Zimbabwe where demographically youths constitute 67.7% of the population, has been manipulated by the political elite to perpetuate violent conflicts as youth are more susceptible to manipulation by both politicians and government. Urdal (2006) notes that conflicts occur when the proportion of youth bulge exceeds 20%. The percentage of youth bulge in Zimbabwe exceeds this threshold by over 40%: this at the backdrop of an external debt hovering at 146% of the country’s GDP, over 90% unemployment rate, poor governance and accountability practices, politicization of societal life and dwindling civic voice and trust; has furthered youth marginalization. Youths have thus become a pool for recruitment and conscription into youth militia groups by political parties for deployment to carry out atrocities that further political party agendas. The vigilant groups are known for torturing, intimidating and killing citizens with differing political ideologies. Examples include Chipangano in Mbare, Harare and the Al-Shabab styled organization in Kwekwe in the Midlands Province. Outright manipulation of youth by politicians who promise economic rewards such as employment, land, and pay-outs has seen youths perpetrating violence at alarming rates. Urdal (2006) further states that risk increases under times of political, economic and educational stress, and Zimbabwe has been under such stress for a decade. Consequently, election times in the country have been characterized by a violent contest among unemployed youth across the political divide and marred with outright violence, voter intimidation, and victimization, with youths taking the lead. The growing marginalization of young people in Zimbabwe is not only political, but also structural, the political mentality that youth are the leaders of tomorrow continue to shrink the youth space. Zimbabwe ‘s youth development space is epitomized by violations of basic rights, that is lack of decent jobs, exorbitant education, limited access to health care, drug abuse, lack of civic space to innovate and participate. This paper seeks to articulate a solution-oriented approach to these challenges, through raising home ground nuggets and the paper is also raising key questions that need to be addressed to move forward as a country.
The definition of youth varies depending on a country or the institution involved. The Zimbabwe Constitution Act 2013 Section 20 defines ‘Youth’ as those between the ages between 15 and 35 years, that is to say, anyone below the age of 15 is in the category of being a child The Zimbabwe Constitution was aligned with the Africa Union (AU) Youth Charter which was ratified by the government of Zimbabwe. It is, however, important to note that the United Nations (UN) definition of youth is different from that of AU and Zimbabwe. As noted above there has been a lifetime debate on ‘Who is a Youth” and “Who is a Young Person”, it is important to note that the definition of youth is not uniform across the board, it differs according to the country, regional instruments, continent or institution. The United Nations’ definition of ‘Youth’ is those between the ages of 15 to 24. General Assembly, by its resolution 50/81 in 1995, adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond, it reiterated that the United Nations defined youth as the age cohort of 15-24. The Secretary-General first referred to the current definition of youth in 1981 in his report to the General Assembly on International Youth Year (A/36/215, paragraph 8 of the annex) and endorsed it in ensuing reports (A/40/256, paragraph. 19 of the annex). Assembly resolution A/RES/56/117 in 2001, the Commission for Social Development resolution E/2007/26 and E/CN.5/2007/8 in 2007 and the General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/126 in 2008 also reinforced the same age-group for youth. The European Union (EU) defines Youth as from the ages from 15 to 29 years. EU Youth Strategy Investing and Empowering 2010-2018, Erasmus + and Youth in Action Programmes, Euro stat reports and Euro barometer surveys that determine young people as those aged 15-29 years. Though in Italy and other EU countries in their programs view youth as those between the ages of 15 -35 years. The SADC region there is no clear strategy or youth instrument such as Youth Protocol to define youth, it depends on countries, whether they have ratified the Africa Youth Charter or they specify using their constitution on United Nations definitions. The Africa Union adopted Africa Youth Charter in 2006 specifies that youth range from the ages of 15-35 years and the Charter spells out that every Africa Country should define youth as such.
According to UNDESA the definition of youth perhaps changes with circumstances, especially with the changes in demographics, financial, economic and socio-cultural settings. It is however of significant importance to note that there is a distinct depending with context, on the difference between ‘Youth’ and ‘Youth People’, young people are defined in the context of Generation forty (G40) that is to say anyone below the age of 49 is considered to be in the generation of young people. This analysis is important as it will inform critical examinations and understanding of youth in this paper.
Summary of Youth definitions by age:
|UN Secretariat/UNESCO/ILO||Youth: 15-24||UN Instruments, Statistics|
|UN-Habitat (Youth Fund)||Youth: 15-32||Agenda 21|
|UNICEF/WHO/UNFPA||Adolescent: 10-19, Young
People: 10-24, Youth: 1524
|UNICEF /The Convention on
Rights of the Child
|Child until 18||UNICEF|
|The African Youth Charter||Youth: 15-35 Years||African Union, 2006|
The History of Youth Participation in Zimbabwe
Since the dawn of Pan-Africanism and anti-colonial movements in the 1950s, youths in Africa have been at the forefront of calling for radical change, sustainable transformation in the political and economic spheres that affect their lives. A notable example of youth sacrifice for their rights is the Soweto uprising of 1976 in South Africa. Most nationalist political movements started as youth organization movements and transformed into political and liberation movements, that is why most governments in Africa are afraid of youth movements, young activists and youth organizations; these youth organizations were a pinnacle towards the liberation of many countries. The youth of that era recognized the importance of political participation as a way of making their voices heard. Looking at the independence of Zimbabwe that came in 1980, most of the liberation war fighters were in their youthful ages; united with the resolve to free Zimbabwe from the repressive and oppressive rule of the Smith regime, in some recorded cases, young people were joining the war at the ages of 12 years. This has been one of the most significant moments in the history of Zimbabwe in which its youth played an instrumental role in bringing sovereignty to the country and young people of today must take a leaf. In recognition of this, at the dawn of Independence, in the first Cabinet formed in Zimbabwe, the government had a specific Ministry on youth titled: Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation led then by the youngest Joice Teurairopa Mujuru at 22 years. It is important to note that the government over the years has maintained this stance with every cabinet having a Ministry focusing on Youth issues to date. Such a decision at the highest political level pointed to immense political will within the country to support and drive the empowerment and development of youth including their participation in governance processes. Three decades later, the story of youth within the country has painted a paradoxical picture which in part warrants the investigation in this paper. Despite these facts, on the ground, youth are marginalized and excluded from the political and important decision-making processes and they are a traumatized generation. The youth in Zimbabwe since the late 90s have experienced torrid economic and political environment coupled with high unemployment, poor education system, state brutality, and a blank future.
Youth constitute a fifth of the World’s population. Meanwhile, their participation in political discourses is very limited. Globally, the average age of parliamentarians is 53. The minimum age for competing to the parliamentary candidacy is 25 years. Taking a marathon view of young people in Zimbabwe Parliament as for today, youth constitutes 1.6% in parliament, 4 out of 260 members of parliament after the death of Vimbai Tsvangirai. In economic issues, the participation of young people started to drastically fall since 1995 due to Economic Adjustments Programs (ESAP), following the anti-poor policies by the government which was backed by Bretton Woods Institutions that is International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The situation was further worsened by human rights abuses, corruption and land invasions which attracted sanctions in the new millennium. Young people became the victims of insanity by the government through a system of misgovernance; the hope for the young generation became unclear up to the postMugabe era.
Since the year 2000 major political events such as elections, the referendum, and constitutional consultative workshops; youth have been mainly playing a negative role in sanctioned campaigns of violence. There were recorded cases of trained militia perpetrating violence, intimidation, and rape. This was done in the name of defending the nation from “Western influence” thereby planting the seed of political polarization, (Zimbabwe Peace Project 2008). In 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations on charges of human rights violations during the violent and chaotic land reform process. Also, the 2002 presidential elections were followed by a sanctioned campaign of violence targeted against known and perceived opposition supporters. The same tone of violence marked the 2005 elections that were also mired in accusations of voterigging, violence, and intimidation (ZPP: 2008).
A Traumatized Generation: The Missing Link
As noted above, youth challenges are shaped by different factors, for this paper will call them
‘Dimensional Factors’ these are Political, Economic, Social and Cultural factors. The dimensions, if not managed property in anybody’s polity, youth bear the brunt, as youth participation shrinks. Youth participation enables youths to show their expertise and contribute to a democratic society whilst exercising their rights. Evans & Prilleltensky (2007). Youth participation is also an opportunity for self-development as well as knowledge and skills’ transfer amongst youths (Checkoway & Aldana, 2013). Youth participation also helps young people to transition into adulthood and take on societal development issues at an early age (Arnot & Swartz, 2013; Checkoway, 2011). Flanagan & Levine, (2010) postulate that youth participation:
- is a right;
- assumes youths as competent citizens;
- is facilitated by young leaders and adult allies;
- aims to address the limitless issues faced by youths;
- has several strategies and is not a one size fits all process;
- It is an active engagement and not passive presence or token roles.
Being able to understand these elements can help in identifying ways of improving youth participation.
1. The Political Dimension
Since 2016, given the growing political polarization and instability coupled with a worsening economy; there has been a steady growth in the agency of youth which is worth mentioning. With the Zimbabwean economy continues to underperform as epitomized by a plethora of new challenges such as the rampant cash shortages, the pending introduction of bond notes, the continued closure of companies and the current inflationary trend among other economic ills, the year 2016 witnessed a significant rise of organized social movements, mainly led by youth that have been taking the government to task about the said economic and challenges as well as other socio-political challenges that Zimbabwe is confronted with. Young people led Movements such as the This-Flag Campaign led by Pastor Evan Mawarire, the Tajamuka Movement, the Students Movement, Occupy Africa Unity Square, Citizens Manifesto, This Gown, Vendors Initiatives, Zimbabwe Yadzoka, CITE, Leave No Youth Behind, the rise of critical comedians who use artsas a form of protest to air on political ills in the society- the likes of Bus-Stop, Butisi, and Keda, Cde Fatso among others have taken center stage in demanding accountability from government, recognition of fundamental rights and addressing of the country’s socio-economic challenges. Young Artists and celebrities have not been left out in demanding accountability, good governance, and peace, the likes of Dadza D, Tocky Vibes, Winky D, among others. This has seen the steady growth of youth agency in governance processes which can be connected to the 2018 Harmonized Elections which witnessed an increase in the youth electorate and youth standing for public office for both Local elections and Parliament.
The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) figures following the Biometric Voter registration process reflected that 5 524 188 people had registered to vote and of this figure, 43.5% of the registered persons fall within the age cap of 18 to 34 years. This figure translates to 2 403 021 registered youth appearing on the voter’s roll. Comparing with the elections in 2013, the increase in the youth electorate is 33.12%. The percentage increase alone totals to 1 829 611 youth appearing on the voters roll before the election. The voting trends of youth on Election Day also increased, this signifies an important shift in the participation of youth from apathy to the agency. The safe spaces for youth to participate as candidates and voters need to be maintained. The recent episodes since the August 1 killings, 14 to 16 January shootings and army intimidation, rise in the scale of police brutality, government political rhetoric to criminalize the exercise of freedoms of association and assembly which are cardinal to youth participation in governance processes. The shrinking civic space has the potential of pushing youth back into the decades of apathy. The new administration thus seems to be pursuing path reminiscent of the old regime where there is recognition of youth-rhetorically while policy and practice gags youth in the country. The idea of instilling fear to the citizens has taken over the day to the day leadership style of the regime, with witnessed police ban on demonstrations, the brutality of young people among others. The recent abduction of Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gonyeti of the Bus Stop Tv among others is a clear gesture that the taunted reforms are a mare public stunt to manage the international community.
There is increasing political rhetoric from senior government officials clamping down on civic space, that is, freedom to assembly and association from the presidium going downwards the chain of leadership. The Minister of Defense threatened protestors with the unleashing of the army. There are piece-meal reforms on laws relating to the exercise of freedoms to assembly and association. The government is seeking to reform laws created the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) which was rejected by both the public (citizens) during consultations and in Parliament by the parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC).
Government has imposed a crackdown on civil society actors with growing criminalization of CSOs work in areas of governance and human rights in the country. More recently, the government arrested seven activists at the airport upon their return from workshop on peaceful resistance hosted by the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies in the Maldives between May 20 and 27. They were all charged with ‘subversion of a constitutional government’, a treason charge which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The activists have since been released on bail with court proceedings pending. The arbitrary arrests of CSO leaders and activists and the government ban on protests and demonstrations serve as deterrents to any form of organizing in defending the rights to association and assembly. The Zimbabwe Peace Project, human rights watchdog notes in its latest report9 , that since May there has been an upsurge of 74.4% cases in incidents of abductions and intimidation of citizens by State security agents. The report notes that Mashonaland Central Province proved to be the hot spot of intimidation and harassment violations accounting for 40% of cases followed by Harare at 14.9% and Mashonaland East at 12.4%.
Increasing Police and military brutality and the use of violence in dealing with protestors who are exercising constitutional rights. According to Kubatana (March, 2019), violations since January include at least 18 extrajudicial killings, 17 reports of rape or sexual offenses, 26 abductions, 61 displacements, 81 assaults with gunshot attacks, at least 586 assaults and torture, inhuman and degrading treatment including dog bites, 954 arrests and detention (including dragnet arrests), among other violations. Youth has been the majority of casualties of the arrests and brutality of the police with youth accounting for a significant number of arbitrary arrests. Following the January protests, prominent youth activists after intimidation and escaping abduction have fled the country and are residing in neighboring countries fearing for their lives in Zimbabwe. Given the continued crackdown, these remain in neighboring countries which further violates their rights of living in their preferred country. Most of these youth activists work with social movements, youth membership organizations, student unions among others undertaking critical work which involves raising awareness, community mobilization, human rights and building the capacities of citizens to engage in non-violent civic participation and engagement.
2. The Socio-Economic Dimension
It is young people who bear the economic brunt of misgovernance, if the economy is not performing, high unemployment, rising inflation, accumulation of debts becomes the order of the day. The Zimbabwe scenario since the year 2000 in the Mugabe era to the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa has seen a sharp economic collapse, mainly due to political factors as cited above. Other factors apart from failure by political leaders to reform, there is rampant
9 Nkala, Silas, Abductions, intimidation spike in Zimbabwe: ZPP, Newsday,
https://www.google.com/search?q=abductions%2C+intimidation+spike+in+Zimbabwe%3A+ZPP+report&oq=abductions%2C+in timidation+spike+in+Zimbabwe%3A+ZPP+report&aqs=chrome..69i57.20395j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF–8 (accessed July 16,
corruption that needs genuine and agent attention, and also to make sure there is policy consistency to attract foreign investors. An analysis has been made by National Associations of Youth Organisations (NAYO) 2018 Report that since the year 2005 some young people have not had the opportunity to be formally employed, they don’t know what is it to have a salary, worse, others did not have the chance to do unpaid voluntary work. The future of work is under threat, even though tenets such as food, shelter, work are considered as basic human rights, in Zimbabwe, these rights are for the privileged few and mostly youth are not part of those who are enjoying basic rights.
The policies and programs made by the government to engage youth are usually good on paper but lacks concrete implementation architecture, for example, the youth empowerment drive that came in the new millennium, evidence shows that the programs were used for political expedience, through partisan approach, real youth could not benefit. The establishment of an Empower Bank is a positive idea by the government, but as long as the broader question is not addressed, that is economic stability through political realism, the bank will continue to be a building with few elites benefiting. Youth empowerment cannot be separated from the broader economic development plan if the economy is stagnant, so does the empowerment, basic economic fundamentals must be addressed, that is political and economic questions bordering the economy.
The government in its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for Zimbabwe (IPRSP 20162018) among its seven targeted pillars, there was the pillar for Gender, Women and Youth Empowerment. Specifically on youth the IPRSP prioritized investment in youth, build their capacities through strengthened human capital, acknowledged the demographic dividend, equipping youth entrepreneurial skills for business development through incubation, mentorship and training, above all the IPRSP acknowledged the need for leadership development and advocacy to enhance youth participation in socio-economic issues, decision making processes, youth participation in food production to improve household and national food security, decentralization of youth fund scheme to lower levels, improve ICTs and promotion of sports and recreation. From the issues raised in IPRSP, one could conclude that Zimbabwe has the best heart for its young people, however, the good deeds ended on paper without any remarkable steps towards youth empowerment, the theory of tokenism vs authenticity should be further investigated in all government policies toward youth.
After the removal of Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe who ruled the country for all most four decades, the new arrangement led by Emmerson Mnangagwa introduced another interim policy document, the Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP) that is anchored on 7 key thematic areas and based on a set vision “Towards a Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle Income Society by 2030”. Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) objectives focus on: Stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector, introducing necessary policy, and institutional reforms, to transform to a private sector-led economy, addressing infrastructure gaps and launching quick-wins to stimulate growth. The pillar in the TSP that is directly linked to youth development is the Human Development in which the government plan to prioritize initiatives targeted at young people and women, to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty sustainably and permanently. It has to be noted however that for the TSP to achieve its intended goals on human development other key themes such as governance and other key reforms must be attained; without a political will for the other targets, the country will remain stagnant with its young people bearing the cost.
The austerity for prosperity has caused much harm than good to already suffering young people, take for example an unemployed young person being taxed through mobile money payments. On the social dimension; the level of poverty among young persons is a threat to peace and stability in Zimbabwe. A lot of young people are resorting to abusing drugs and prostitution among other social ills. The health system is beyond the reach of youth, education is exorbitant, service delivery is collapsing. The young people are in a difficult situation if the environment does not change for the better, there is a probability of upraising by the youth, the nature of the uprising will not be necessarily organized by political parties, but emerging from pockets of selforganizing youth movements and groups pushed by political and economic frustrations.
Legal and Policy Frameworks that Guides Youth Participation in Zimbabwe
Apart from a progressive Constitution that for the first time through section 20 recognized the young people, Zimbabwe has various instruments that are meant to empower youth, among them the Youth Act and the Zimbabwe Youth Policy. At regional and international levels various instrument is available at SADC, Africa Union (AU) and the UN. There are many conventions that give youth and children the right to participate in political-economy which Zimbabwe is a signatory to. Some of the conventions include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 21 which codified everyone’s “right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives (Danielle and Daniela (2011). However, given the low involvement of youth in governance issues indicates that governments which are signatories are hypocrites. The UN Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is another instrument adopted by the Zimbabwe government, to encourage youth participation; the country has taken a positive step by establishing the Junior Parliament and the Junior Council that allow young people in schools to contribute to policy and issues affecting them, however, this mechanism lacks sustainable support to transform young people issues into practical actions. There should be a link between young people being prepared and to that of real participation after their school, for example, participation in electoral processes.
Zimbabwe has ratified the African Youth Charter that is a regional blueprint that member states of Africa Union have agreed to adopt and implement at the national level to foster effective youth participation and empowerment. In 2012 Zimbabwe took a positive step by operationalizing the Charter. The African Youth Charter which defines youth as individuals between 15 and 35 years of age, is a set of rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of young people, it also spells out the duties to be performed by countries. The rights can be clustered into four main themes: youth participation, education and skills development, sustainable livelihoods or economic development, and health. The Youth Charter creates a legally binding framework for governments to develop supportive policies and programs for young people and serves to consolidate the implementation of such policies and programs. The Charter has a strong bias towards youth taking part in decisionmaking processes through participation as voters and candidates during the electoral period.
Summary of National, Regional and International Legislation or Instruments for Youth
|Legislation / Instrument||Description||Reference/ Status|
|Zimbabwe National Constitution||Section 20 specifies youth rights, obligation and government roles and establishment of a National Youth Program. Bill of Rights guarantees rights of Youth. However, the rights are not absolute or enforceable as Section 20 is found in the National
|National Youth Policy (Zimbabwe)||Lists youth programs, strategies and how they have to be carried out. The Policy seeks to ensure that all young women and men are given meaningful opportunities to reach their full potential, both as individuals and as active participants in society.||Enacted in the year
2000 and last revised in the year 2013
|Zimbabwe Youth Council ACT||Violates the National
Constitution and needs urgent attention; it has to be aligned to the National Constitution. It was put to monitor and regulate youth organizations, not to empower them.
|Acts 10/1983, 15/1991, 16/1997, 22/2001.
Status: Needs alignment with the constitution
|Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC)||The Special Interest Group a thematic area that represents promotion and protection youth rights. Currently, the National Association of Youth Organizations (NAYO) and Zimbabwe
Youth Council (ZYC) sit in the committee. The committee is key to push,
|Chapter 12 of the
|monitor and report on youth rights|
|Statutory Instrument 4 of 2013
|In serious violation of the Constitutions, it withdraws
Youth Rights and Freedoms
|SI 4 OF 2013
|SADC Declaration on Youth Developme and Empowerment
SADC Youth Employment Promotion Policy Framework,
SADC Strategy and Business Plan on Youth Empowerment and
Sustainable Development, 2015-2020;
SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour,
SADC Protocol on Education and Training,
SADC Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons,
SADC Protocol on Gender and
Development, the SADC Charter of Fundamental Social Rights
SADC Regional Support Strategy
SADC Regional Indicative
Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)
SADC Industrialisation Strategy and
Road Map for the period
SADC Decent Work Program
|Apart from various instruments that largely try to tackle employment, education and migration SADC needs to enact a Youth Protocol that guides the region. Youth are usually made as an acknowledgment in various documents without a clear framework that involves youth from the planning to the implementation process. There is a lot of documents that are not backed by
| 2013, 2014, 2016,
|Africa Youth Charter||The Charter is a tool for African Countries to empower Youth and observe their rights. Zimbabwe has domesticated the Charter, what is left is implementation strategy and monitoring.
Zimbabwe has ratified it.
|Africa Union, 2006|
|Agenda 2063||Goals 15 and 16, which emphasize, “Full gender equality in all spheres of life” and an “Engaged and empowered youth” respectively, as fundamental pillars to Africa’s
|Africa Union, 2015|
|UN Resolution 2250 for Youth, Peace & Security and additional strategies||It compels the Member States
to consider ways to
increase inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels for the prevention and resolution of conflict
All relevant actors should take into account, as appropriate, the participation and views of youth when negotiating and implementing peace agreements. Zimbabwe must consider domesticating the resolution. Peace among youth is a tool for stability.
|United Nations, 2015|
|Agenda 2030||Goals 1, 4, 5, 8 and 16 are more important to youth development. The participation of Youth in SDGs is very important and transformational. Zimbabwe has prioritized 11 SDGs. There is no clear framework on how youth are stakeholders in attaining the targets.||United Nations, 2015|
|The United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY)||In 1995, on the tenth
anniversary of International
Youth Year, the United Nations strengthened its commitment to young people by directing the international community’s response to the challenges to youth into the next millennium. It did this by adopting an international strategy, the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
|1995, Reviewed in
“Zimbabwe through the Constitution enacted in 2013 protects and guarantees the freedom of association to nationals inclusive of civil society organizations. Section 58 of the Constitution notes that, clause, (1) and (2) “Every person has the right to freedom of assembly and association, and the right not to assemble or associate with others” and “No person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting a gathering.” NAYO Enabling Environment Report (2015)
The Youth Development Model (YDM)
The Youth Development Model (YDM) is a broad approach, that seeks to promote various and diverse strategies to improve the daily life of youth through effective participation in national processes. The model initially developed in Zimbabwe by the National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) and adopted by Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYof) in 2018 is based on practical ways of developing youth as leaders, stockholders, and stakeholders. The Model is based on Seven (7) Ps that is: Possibilities, Prioritisation, Participation, Partnerships, Primacy, Peace, Policies, and Laws. The Seven Ps define the youth agenda and strategies to the communities, leaders and responsible institutions, offering solutions to the challenges faced by youth rather than focusing on challenges.
The philosophy of Youth Development Model (YDM) has led to the development of a Four Lense Approach which has become the trademark of youth work. The Model considers Youth as
Stakeholders, as Stockholders, as Leaders, and as Game Changers. The uniqueness of the Four Lens Approach is that, unlike other scenarios in which others decide beforehand what the communities’ agenda will be, the Model emphasizes participatory approaches so that (a) the communities’ priorities are clear, come from people who are affected (Youth) and (b) the youth within the community can participate in the prioritization of their issues; which help to facilitate their constructive participation in a peaceful manner and in the new vision for the community, the country and (c) the model emphasis on partnerships to achieve high-level results for youth, taking into account that youth alone cannot solve their challenges but need other stakeholders, this entails youth Primacy, that is to say for any change to be there, youth must effectively be part of the table as decision-makers not only beneficiaries and making all Policy and laws that affect them, lastly any possibility that seeks to empower and develop youth must be expeditiously explored as long as it is ethical and within the confines of the universal laws, national laws and guidelines.
Source: Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYoF) 2018 and NAYO (2017)
The YDM provides for a basis for other recommendations below, this is because young people will be the key actors in transformation, as participants and solution bearers. Recommendations
1. Making the Politics Right
As noted in this paper, the challenges being faced by young people in Zimbabwe are mainly emanating from the politics of the country. This paper recommends a sustainable dialogue to our political challenges, the dialogue must be all-inclusive and mediated by a neutral player who is generally accepted by all parties. Youth inclusion in this dialogue forms the basis for the success of addressing our challenges as a country. Our politics must transcend on genuine political reforms backed by political will. No country will develop with series of human rights violations, shrinking of civic space and abandonment of the rule of law. Youth activists and development practitioners continue to work under restrictive environments that curtail civic education, participation, and engagement. Lucid examples of draconian legislation include: the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which work hand in glove curbing freedoms of assembly; association; media and access to information and the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) Act and Statutory Instrument (S.I) 4, both curtail vibrant youth movements within the country. The politicization of civic space and service provision in Zimbabwe has weakened the local government, the sphere of government closest to the people, as citizens are seen as objects to be ‘dictated’ to. This paper recommends the following under this pillar:
- Elimination of barriers to the active participation of youth in nation building including in political spaces and putting in place mechanisms to facilitate meaningful youth participation in political parties, parliaments, judiciary, cabinets, and civil service structures;
Remove all discriminatory laws and limitations to the full participation of young people in electoral processes through inclusive electoral laws and constitutions which foster effective diversity management. Current laws bar those below 40 years from running for presidential office and senate;
- Review, revise, amend or abolish all laws, regulations, policies, practices, and customs that have a discriminatory impact on youth especially girls and young women, without distinction of any kind. These must include protection from harmful practices like early, forced or child marriages, sexual and gender-based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM);
- Strengthening of independent youth formations, networks, and organizations at district, provincial and national levels to champion youth development;
- Setting up an independent constitutional youth body by government which shall be responsible for capacity building of the youth, impartation of life skills, youth leadership development, the realization of a quota representation of youths in government, policy formulation and implementation, decision making, as well as administering over the affairs of the youth, including a special fund for the youth for these purposes.
- Adoption of specific measures to ensure that state institutions and state machinery are not manipulated by any state and non-state actors for intimidation, violence or stifling the voice of the youth.
- Adoption of specific measures to ensure that State institutions and state machinery will serve and not subvert the will of the youth through a specific pro-youth regulatory framework of these state institutions and other state machinery in line with the Human Rights-Based Approach
2. Education and Skills
That government must make a long-term plan aimed at addressing and adapting Zimbabwe’s education system to meet the needs of the current and emerging world of work, through curriculum revision and strengthening, and better resourcing of institutions financially, materially and human resource-wise. There is a need to carry skills audit, consult different stakeholders on the job market, the demand versus supply and map future needs.
- Review curriculum of educational institutions to increase quality and relevance to labour market and national developmental needs, particularly through an emphasis on skills development and a greater focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through enhanced implementation of continental policies like the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2 0 1 4 – 2 4 ) ; a n d t h e C o n tin e n t a l Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-25).
- Expand vocational training opportunities for skills acquisition for young people to enhance their employability (including self-employment), productivity and competitiveness as stated in the Continental Strategy for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET CS). This must be done in a non-partisan and non-exploitative manner that observes the rights and dignity of youth;
Improve inclusive access to education at all levels and provide viable alternatives for the many young people, particularly adolescent girls, who drop out of the formal educational system, by facilitating re-entry;
- Enhance the empowerment of youth through the integration of civic education in national educational curricula, media platforms, and other channels to instill principles of PanAfricanism, the rule of law, human rights and individual duties and responsibilities;
- Adopt a life-course approach to learning that encompasses a wide range of subjects and topics, including livelihood skills, civic education, age-appropriate and culturally sensitive comprehensive education about sexual and reproductive health and address sexual harassment affecting young women in the education system.
- Introduction of concrete Government loan policies to fully fund tertiary education
- Introduce policies that stimulate the participation of the business sector in skills development so that they may unveil loans and grants for tertiary students
- To repeal or democratize the University Act of 1990
3. The Future of Work
There should be policies and measures that support entrepreneurs and innovators in the informal sector, and aid a transition of the sector’s participants from informality to formality. Like many other youths in Africa, Zimbabwean youth have been challenged by the predicament of high unemployment rates and limited civic engagement opportunities, amongst other adversities. In Zimbabwe, unemployment has become one of the most pervasive challenges faced by youth due to the socio-economic and political collapse that characterized the past decade and a half ago.
Reports indicate that the overall unemployment rate is 95%, youths thus face an uncertain future. The youth peak bulge has not spared Zimbabwe.
The informal sector dominates the Zimbabwean economy. More youth are now entering the scene with hopes of economic survival, yet the job market is not opening up enough opportunities for them. This has been lamented by many youth entrepreneurs. Despite many of them having received a good education, some are still unable to find stable, formal jobs. Most universities are churning out more graduates than the economy can sustainably accommodate in its current state. However, many of the schools are also channeling out students who have more book knowledge than the technical skills required for self-sufficiency in the current market. The following recommendations can be given on this pillar:
- Supporting youth working in creative industries, through local structures, investment in training, leadership, management, production and promotion of culture for youth;
- Improve access to credit facilities for youth and establish and operationalize a National Youth Fund to increase young people’s access to business capital;
- Advocacy and lobby for the parliament to enact a national youth program on job creation and economic empowerment of youth as provided for under Section 20 of the constitution, clauses (1c and 2);
- Government of Zimbabwe to create mechanisms that support youth ideas, innovation and job creation; this can be achieved through financial inclusion, effective policies, capacity building programs that enhance employability and supporting youth entrepreneurship which includes vocational training;
Develop proper policies, incentive measures and create a conducive environment for Corporate Social Responsibilities to support youth entrepreneurship;
- Enhance access of young people to government procurement and financial services, including special considerations for youth-led businesses and measures to reduce the challenge of starting and/or doing business within the country. The government must enact the 25% quota system in economic empowerment as provided for under the current National Youth Policy;
- Invest in sectors with high job-multiplier effects, including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), manufacturing, agriculture, and agro-industries to generate employment and spur inclusive growth.
The quota system is specified in the Zimbabwe Youth Policy (2013) it is a process in which young people must have reserved spaces. As noted in ZHRC (2018) youth constitute 67 % of the total population, therefor the statistic should mirror their participation in the national processes. At parliamentary level young people must have a quota representation of the total seats, however, this needs to be backed by law, that is the Zimbabwe Youth Act or any other Act of parliament. The political parties, government institutions and independent commissions such as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must also be part of the processes to attain the youth quota system. Youth inclusion must be in all spheres of government policy and all aspects of the economy, not only in decision making. As stipulated by the Youth Development Model ‘s four Lens Approach, young people are stakeholders, leaders, stakeholders, and game changers and their inclusion complete the development equation.
The Youth Development Model (YDM) defines how youth in Zimbabwe must be considered as leaders, stakeholders, stakeholders, and game-changers through its 7ps, there is a need for key reforms to harness the demographic dividend; investment in youth requires a conducive civic space, that will unpack new opportunities. Young people must not sit and wait for the change, but there must be part of the change through effective participation in politics and the economy. In cases where spaces are not opened, the young people must use peaceful and constitutional ways for their grievances to be taken on board, this can be through engagement, civil actions, dialogue among others. Youth in Zimbabwe has the potential to lead the narrative and the desired sustainable change.
Lewanika, M., “Zimbabwe and the Future of Work”, theSpace working papers, 2016-01, theSpace, Harare.
Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, (2000): The National Youth Policy – Zimbabwe
Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenization, and Economic Empowerment, (2013) National Youth Policy – Zimbabwe
National Association of Youth Organizations (NAYO), 2017: Zimbabwe Youth Roadmap – Investing in youth. Harare
Ruth B. Mandel and Katherine E. Kleeman. 2004. Political generation next: America’s young elected leaders. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics.
RAU, (2009), 2013, Vision – Seeing Double and the Dead: A Preliminary Audit of Zimbabwe’s Voters’ Roll, Research and Advocacy Unit. Harare: Zimbabwe.
United Nations Development Programme, 2017 “Handbook for Electoral Management Bodies” UNDP.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (OHCHR), 2018, Zimbabwe Youth Report; OHCHR. Genève Switzerland.
 Constitution of Zimbabwe Act 2013
 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/62/126/2018
 Participation of Youth in Governance Processes (Gondo:2019)
 Youth Participation in Governance Processes (Gondo: 2019)
 Interim Poverty Reduction Paper for Zimbabwe (IPRSP 2016-2018)
 Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP)
 Lewanika, M., “Zimbabwe and the Future of Work”, theSpace working papers, 2016-01, theSpace, Harare.
 Youth Road Map on Investment in Youth