The Sunday News
The experience of a Zimbabwean youth is one of uncertainty, exacerbated by economic challenges and the HIV/Aids pandemic.
They are part of a socio-political category that emerged from the collapse of traditional societies under the impacts of colonialism and the post-colonial mobilisation of young people for a range of power struggles in which they have often been the major victims.
Those demanding change and those seeking to defend the existing order, seek to mobilise more young people to their side. This makes the vital problems of youth, their role in governance, their struggle for a livelihood, and the overwhelming threat of HIV/Aids, key issues for governance in Zimbabwe. Politics needs to find economic solutions for this demographic and its majority of problems wherein youth rapidly grow larger in numbers.
The post 21st challenges to Zimbabwe’s political economy have presented numerous pedagogues to the diverse constituencies in Zimbabwe. The dynamics of generational politics need not to be confronted in an unquestioning perspective; it needs a critical questioning approach which interrogates the correspondence of speech politics and the generational transition demands in economic spaces. In the unfolding of the deeply embedded Zimbabwean challenges, while the nation is struggling to realise itself in the broader economic definition, the youth is also struggling to locate itself in the economy of Zimbabwe. The intersection of economic dismemberment for the youth in Zimbabwe has probed the academic constituency into investigating possible solutions for to disenfranchisement of the youths.
The protracted political and economic crisis affecting Zimbabwe for more than a generation has left many of the youth frustrated and disillusioned. Ever since international investors deserted the economic landscape of Zimbabwe, production has been a micro case in economic language. Amid such a professionally worrying reality, with or without investment and employment youth lives have to proceed and the daily demands of the politics of survival are inevitable. In the complexity of the entire economic quagmire, political decisions seem to be the crux of the struggle in the economic empowerment of the youths.
Usually when a nation’s economy is dismantling, political decisions are at the helm of exploring the possible alternatives. In the unhygienic political landscape of Africa as Professor PLO Lumumba would suggest, the economic misfortune of the youth has become a fortune for the other generation’s patronage structures. When the youth chose to think political for their problems they subconsciously neglected the critical vessels of their empowerment which happen to be the economy, the major problem facing the youth now is no longer the politics of who has the power, it has translated into who is producing what and where. Production has become a major challenge to Zimbabwe’s youth.
When the youth fail to produce, they intend to coerce the other generation to produce for them. The reality of the situation is that “nothing comes for mahala” hence youths tend to be used for uncouth practices in exchange for sadza and beer and other short term economic dividends.
In that submission, youths need to reclaim their space firstly in economics and in politics as well; these two supplement each other, without the other there is no functionality of any. In economics and politics the assumption of the means of production is key, by means of production it is a reference to physical, non-human inputs used for the production of economic value, such as facilities, machinery, tools, infrastructural capital and natural capital. Instead of negotiating for the transition of power alone, the youth should also negotiate of a sustainable transfer of means of production from the other generation to itself.
The realisation that with or without the youth at the helm of Zimbabwe’s political leadership the youth have to be empowered is the first step towards national development. The Government should embark on a facility audit and industrial audit to topple the underutilisation of critical national industrial components. In Bulawayo alone there are more unused buildings compared to utilised buildings in the industrial sites, considering that the youth do not have the immediate capacity to rent or buy those spaces Government should consider leasing those spaces to young people. Apart from availing those spaces Government policy should provide subsidy for capital for the youth to engage in meaningful entrepreneurship instead of unsustainable vending.
But also, young people in Zimbabwe should re-consider their approaches to self-empowerment and national development, it is critical that the youth contribute their fair of opinion to the political function of Zimbabwe. However, it is also critical to understand that the political environment of Africa-wide is not ideal, hence amid the attempt to sanitise it, youths have the mandate to survive and contribute towards national economic development.