More than three-quarters (77%) of Zimbabweans say the government is performing badly in terms of addressing young people’s needs, a pan-African think-tank, Afrobarometer has said.
The Afrobarometer team in Zimbabwe, led by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), interviewed 1,200 adult citizens of Zimbabwe in April 2021.
Key issues highlighted were high unemployment and lack of investment by authorities into skills development for the empowerment of young people.
“Negative assessments of the government’s performance on youth are particularly widespread among urban residents (80%), men (81%), and supporters of the MDC-Chamisa party (95%). More than seven out of 10 of citizens across all age categories express the same sentiment,” read its findings.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing one of the highest unemployment levels in the region for over a decade, a situation that has seen millions of its young people migrate to neighboring countries and overseas in search of opportunities.
As a result, the economy has become highly informal as more and more young people find themselves participating in informal activities to eke a living.
The survey also found that almost six in 10 citizens (58%) say they would support a government decision to make people pay more taxes in order to support programs to help young people.
“Support for more taxes for youth programs is stronger among women (61%) than men (55%), among ZANU-PF adherents (63%) than MDC-Chamisa supporters (49%), and among rural residents (63%) than their urban counterparts (49%). Citizens with post-secondary education (52%) are least likely to endorse higher taxes to support programs to help young people,” said Afrobarometer.
It also found that if the government were to increase its spending on programs to help young people, job creation would be citizens’ top priority for additional investment, followed by education (14%) and job training (14%).
Experts have attributed the failure by government to offer young people economic opportunities as leading them into drug abuse to escape frustration.
Recently, government noted the increase in drug abuse and approved a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach in order to arrest the situation under Operation Clean up Harare Ghetto.
In many lucrative sectors, particularly in mining,most young people continue to be sidelined and as a result, a spat of fresh farm invasions in pursuit of minerals have taken place in some areas.
In August, President Emmerson Mnangagwa warned youths of such practices when he was officially opening a dairy project at Zimplats Mine in Mhondoro-Ngezi.
“I hear that there are so many youths, that are involved in farm invasions, I sternly warn you to stop, Cherai chikomba mupfire mate pasi, munozoti Second Republic yakashata,” said Mnangagwa.
This is despite numerous youth empowerment promises that have been made by government in recent years and are still pending.