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National Policy Understates Youth Population Size

MUTARE- Sections of youths have castigated the government for failing to provide tangible solutions in the third National Youth Policy document recently signed by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In the policy, the government states that it aims to create “An empowered youth actively involved in national development” through the framework binding all Line Ministries, departments, state and non state actors including CSOs.

Community based organizations are however not convinced by the review described by Manicaland Youth Assembly (MAYA) as a reflection of a top down approach to policy making.

In a statement, MAYA said due to lack of consultation the document carries material misrepresentation which could be a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise youths in the run up to the 2023 elections.

Minister of Youth Arts Sports and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry states incorrectly that youths which ‘account for 36% of the population’ will champion industrial revolution under the ambitious Vision 2030.

While the policy document quotes the 2012 Zimstat census, the youth population size has grown above sixty percent according to growth projections by national and international institutions including the United Nations (UN).

MAYA said it was evident the government was only paying lip service to youth empowerment, while underrepresenting their actual population size by half as it was hovering above sixty percent.

“This document should have been subject to consultation prior to being circulated with false information on the large chunk of the voting population.

“One major missed priority is consultations and the issue of the wrong representation, a direct result of this is the actual data difference of 67% and 36% which is a cause for concern.

“We are worried that this is the state rigging machinery in motion ahead of 2023 and this will be a disadvantage to the youths in particular,” said MAYA.

In a study Youth and Human Rights: Youth in Zimbabwe submitted to the UN Organ on Human Rights by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) the youth size is approximated at ‘67.7 percent’ of the 14 million population.

With annual population growth rate estimates ranging from 2.4 to 3 percent, projections indicate that Zimbabwe will have a population of 23 million by 2030, according to the 2014 Human Development Report.

Similarly the Zimbabwe Population Pyramid 2021, released by United States based World Population Review, shows an expansive population demography with a youth bulge and a median age of 20 years.

Also known as the Age Sex Pyramid, Zimbabwe’s graphic shows a growing population with an expansive pyramid- wide base (larger percentage of people in younger age groups, indicating high birth rates and high fertility rates) and narrow top (high death rate and lower life expectancies).

This large percentage faces a general unemployment rate of 80% with many youth graduates resorting to artisanal mining, vending and cross border trade activities to support livelihoods outside of the mainstream economy.

Zivai Community Empowerment Trust (ZICET) said unemployment, corruption and high levels of informality are matters which should be prioritized as they affect youth disproportionately.

The organization monitors environmental enforcement and protection in the gold-rich Penhalonga area of Mutasa district where politically connected syndicates are fermenting disorderly mining activities.

ZICET also raised concerns on the weak monitoring and evaluation strategy as well as complementary budget allocations to the youth sector.

“Generally the policy is good, however it can be strengthened on the M and E there is no clear monitoring and evaluation framework with clear timelines for effective monitoring of progress.

“Further the policy is silent on budgetary allocation at least it was supposed to have a budget percentage outline for effective implementation of the policy,” said ZICET.

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