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Zimbabwe at 30: A tale of a false start - Let the Uhuru Generation
Youth Alliance for Democracy
April 16, 2010
As we celebrate 30 years
of independence, we still await true and youth centred democracy.
Zimbabwe is one country that is failing the Uhuru Generation (youths
born after independence). Since 1980 the then ruling party and various
political establishments failed to politically and economically
empower youths relegating them to sloganeering and the situation
has not changed with the inception of an inclusive government. The
year 1980 was a bad start for Zimbabwean youths. There has been
no independence on the part of the youth in Zimbabwe.
Recap of our tainted Political History
In 1980 the
post-colonial government inherited a stable economy with a strong
currency despite the fact that the country was coming out of a protracted
war and a closed economy owing to the mandatory sanctions imposed
by the UN against the Ian Smith regime. Economists have argued that
what was needed in 1980 was the recapitalisation of local industries
so that locally manufactured products could compete on the international
sphere and attract markets. Unfortunately this need was not addressed
by the Mugabe regime. Instead looting and unplanned expenditure
became the order of the day.
During the 1982/3 agricultural
season there was a serious drought which caught the government unawares
despite warnings by the meteorological department as it had failed
to adequately budget in the fiscus for the natural disaster, this
saw the government straining the fiscus to cushion the populace
against looming threats of starvation with little success. What
was more of the blow to Zimbabwe's economy was that the revolution
began eating its own children with the inhuman and unbudgeted for
military expedition that resulted in the silencing of dissenting
voice in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions. The military action
was uncalled for, unnecessary and ill-conceived in a country that
claimed to be independent and democratic. This saw the North Korean
trained 5th Brigade massacring over 20 000 innocent civilians, leaving
the Uhuru Generation in these areas without parents or bread winners
under looming threats of hunger. President Mugabe later confessed
that it was 'a moment of madness,' insanity to say the
By 1987, owing
to these mal-economic practises including high level corruption
a case being the Willowgate scandal with millions being swindled
from government chauffeurs, Zimbabwe's economy was ailing
as the then Minister of Finance Dr Bernard Chidzero nicodemously
went to the IMF to seek an economic rescue package, to which effect
he was given with no conditions in 1988. However this economic tranquilizer
did not last long and by 1989 he had returned trying to lure possible
intervention from the international body. This time Zimbabwe was
advised to undergo a structural adjustment program, which became
known as ESAP. This saw the privatisation of the economy with the
results being felt by workers as retrenchments became the order
of the day, inflation rose and by April 1990 had reached 20.34%.
Inflation was never to decline from this year. Unemployment rose
and became the order of the day. Our bread winners became unemployed
and could not afford us health care, education, food and shelter,
the Uhuru Generation suffered most.
the mind is that in his inaugural budget under ESAP Chidzero defended
ESAP as a home grown solution that had no links with the Brettonhoods
institutions. Even legislators at the time seconded him including
the newly established Executive President of the republic of Zimbabwe.
The labour movement waged strike action against the effects of privatisation
but these were thwarted with maximum force and in a typical military
style, 3 youths were shot dead at Ziscosteel in Redcliff in 1997.
The situation was the same with the student movement that had initially
opposed the establishment of a one party state during the October
4 demonstrations. The University
of Zimbabwe and the various polytechnics became war zones. At
this time dissent was brewing among the war veterans who felt that
the struggle had been aborted especially with the unfulfilled land
continued on a series of economic blunders with the populist awarding
of the war veterans gratuities $50 000 each. This money was unbudgeted
for and in its expenditure was not channelled to any productive
sectors of the economy but lavishly spent at the expense of the
Uhuru generation that needed medical care, affordable education
and meaningful employment opportunities.
With the formation of
an opposition political party in 1999 human rights abuses intensified.
It became 'normal' to abuse people's rights. In
2000 under the supervision of the then Minister of Youth Honourable
Elliot Manyika the ministry came up with a document titled the National
Youth Policy which, to save space and time in this dossier, was
catastrophically imposed on youths without their due contribution.
The same was done with the National Youth Service which trained
youths to be servants of the older generation and chant slogans.
The Uhuru Generation continues to suffer.
The economic madness
of the past decade was witnessed by all and sundry as inflation
rose to world peaks, voodoo economics became the order of the day
as zeroes and zeroes were removed from the Zimbabwe dollar but to
no avail. Ours became a disillusioned generation with little if
any hope as basic commodities became a scarcity, employment rare
and worthless while the 'older comrades who are more equal
than the others' looted to satisfy their ever growing stomachs.
Youths were nothing but
recipients of this evil system and most found solace in migrating
to other countries where they are treated as third class citizens.
With this state of affairs those who could not leave for greener
pastures were caught in this oppressive cob web and were either
manipulated by the politically or economically privileged or engaged
in unorthodox survival means. Those who raise(d) questions about
this evil state of affairs are seen as outcasts by those who want
to cling on to power till eternity. Statistics of the last decade
indicate that of the 302 people who lost their lives owing to political
violence 78 % were below the age of 35. The Uhuru generation have
now become strangers in the land of their birth.
This goes without saying
that Parliament also enacted the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act which
provides that 7 members of the ZYC board are elected by youth associations
registered with the national body while 8 are appointed by the Minister.
The question is: Is this not an expression of dictatorship by the
minority over the majority, what is the logic? Is this not following
a misplaced and obsolete illogic of the 'need to guide'
youths? The continued presence of such a legal framework which is
not even in the least of the list of motions raised in parliament
is a true reflection of the generational disparities that exist
even under an inclusive government.
Various civic society
groups emerge(d) and face(d) a polarised and risky operating environment.
It has been equally difficult for youths to enter into the political
sphere owing to transitional misnomers where perhaps owing from
the liberation Marxist doctrine political power is gained from one's
economic muscle yet society tactically excludes them from the politics
through economic disempowerment. This is certainly at the expense
of an issues-based political dispensation.
of a sad story
In all this
political mess youths in 'leadership' positions were
and are still less than and are still less than 2% yet they constitute
the majority. Of the 2% they value(d) political party patronage
at the expense of their peers. The appointments of youths in Zimbabwe
to positions of authority have always been cascaded to reflect and
serve the interests of the older generations.
This has equally
been true to gender imbalances where cosmetic appointments of women
to positions of authority has become a norm, for youths it's
even worse as they are felt to be immature and in need of the guidance
of the elders hence the presence of the likes of Saviour Kasukuwere,
a Minister of Youth who is not even a Youth being assisted by a
51 year Permanent Secretary, less than 10 MPs from the three political
parties represented in parliament and government are below the age
of 35, no youth in the Senate, two youths in the cabinet, no youth
in the presidium, a larger number of employees at the Zimbabwe Youth
Council are not youths when 90% of the 96% of the unemployed are
youths. The following diagram explains:
No wonder why youths
are complaining with these bodies. That is precisely why the land
reform process was violent and did not benefit the ordinary youth;
that is the reason for Operation Murambatsvina, the cause of manipulation
of youths to perform and wage various acts of violence, the failure
of the Inclusive government to address the question of youth empowerment
(political and economic empowerment).
This is also the sad
reality that explains why the Youth Fund in the Ministry of Youth
has failed to improve the lives of ordinary youths. Not a single
ordinary youth has benefitted with the exception of those that chant
the loudest slogans!!! The reason the youth of this country will
continue to fight for empowerment engaging a deaf old generation.
30 marks a new era where the youths of Zimbabwe should demand the
adoption of a quota system - 50 percent from local government
to the presidium should be youths below the ages of 35 who can forward
and address the youth concerns and youth mainstreaming in all national
policies and processes. The next elections should see number of
young people declaring their political interests and candidature,
the political formations in this country should embrace fully the
youths into candidates for political office.
The development and acceptance
of youths as equal partners in politics should be, and is in tandem
with the decade/Era of the African Youth Development, 2009 to 2018.
Participation of youths in electoral processes should not be confined
to voting for an older candidate who long surpassed being a youth
but participation as able and equal candidates.
Economic muscles should
not be used for vote buying and rigging elections but elections
manifestos should be concrete action plans that are not only realistic
but in tandem with the economic, social and political aspirations
of youth. Equally if the current constitution making is to bring
a new constitution it can only be democratic and accepted by the
youth if it embraces a quota system in governance and encourages
true empowerment initiatives that are owned and managed by youths.
The cancer that was bred
for the past three decades must be cured. Youths should represent
themselves in all decision-making and political bodies so that they
can advocate for the redress of youth concerns, a scenario that
will guarantee youth mainstreaming. This should not be done by an
older generation; the impetus, mandate and obligation lies in this
historic Uhuru Generation.
a national reconciliation process are documented and were made in
Party Agreement/ GPA and an organ set up. In its composition
the organ fails to realise and accept that the most vulnerable group
that perpetrated and were victims of violence in the past decades
are youths. The elderly who constitute this body are not youths
and owing to time and material conditions and progression will not
allow the organ to know exactly what the youth of this nation hold
and want!!! This could be as a result of politics of marginalisation
at the expense of national development and no national healing is
in sight for Zimbabwean youths. Again the Uhuru generation continues
to suffer from past traumas. 'Even the smallest bird can sing
from the tallest tree.'
Our nation's history
has been marred by marginalisation of youths from the political
playing field and only youths can adequately and promptly represent
Youth Alliance for Democracy
holds firm that it is only when youths are given space to be represented
by youth political leaders whether independent or from various political
establishments out of a fair electoral process that guarantees that
50% of decision makers across the board are youth, 25% being young
women, youth concerns can be redressed without which the Uhuru Generation
will continue to suffer at the behest of the older selfish generations.
Let the Uhuru generation
speak for itself and DO NOT speak on its behalf we are able.
Media and Communications
Department Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD)
Suite 808 Dolphin House
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