My last week installment looked at implications of corruption in the Zimbabwe economic transformation as espoused in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio- Economic Transformation (Zim Asset). Now I would like to identify what it has in store for young people. I will do a quick reminder to those who are familiar with it and update to those who have not read it. The economic recovery framework has four Clusters: Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Eradication; Infrastructure and Utilities; and Value Addition and beneficiation. It is a plan, reflecting the strong need to fully exploit the internal relationships and linkages that exist between the various facets of the economy.
Locating young people in economic framework
The economic recovery blue print recognizes young people as key players if not drivers in the success of economic recovery efforts. The blue print asserts that availing and increasing economic opportunities for women, youths and the physically challenged in communities will stimulate its fulfillment. Expectedly it is premised on conformity with the Indigenization, Empowerment and Employment Creation.
It acknowledges that the country is richly endowed with resources i.e. diamond, gold, timber, hence youths can use that to benefit. The question is what mechanisms have been put in place to achieve the foregoing, because since the discovery on precious minerals like diamonds and very few youths have benefited save for those who have been illegally mining and illegally harvesting timber, what is generally known as panning and poaching. A few political connected or probable correct have obviously benefitted whilst the majority are still languishing in abject poverty.
Let me highlight what I found as opportunities for available young people in the economic blue print.
• Youths can benefit through the Community share ownership scheme if they lobby for it to be transparent, accountable and accessible, and it is outlined clearly how management and distribution of resources for an ordinary young person from the village.
• Youths can benefit from land redistribution if a land audit is carried out and the government deals with multi farm ownership. There are a number of young people who need have applied land and the waiting is increasing day by day but there leaders who own more than one farm at expense of landless young people.
• The can create jobs for youths through investment in infrastructure such as energy and power development, roads, rail, aviation, telecommunication, water and sanitation, however lack investment both foreign and local will make this a still birth.
• The commitment by the government to resuscitate distressed, closed companies and increasing capacity utilization will create more employment opportunities for young people. The past experiences casts doubt on effectiveness of such interventions, as there was a lot of debate on beneficiaries of Distressed and Marginalized Areas Fund (Dimaf) .
• Value addition and production of primary products will create jobs for young people in the line of production instead of shipping out raw materials.
• Government`s thrust on SMEs and youths co-operatives will grow opportunities for business and skills development for innovative youths.
• Thrust on vocational training and skills development will benefit marginalized youths especially those domiciled in rural areas and those that failed to access basic education.
Let me also point what I strongly argue may sink the economic recovery plan and therefore it remains just another economic blueprint like others that have been crafted before.
• Gross cases of corruption at governmental parastatals that are suppose to spearhead the economic recovery plan.
• Lack of finance and investment to fund rehabilitation of the infrastructure.
• Misplaced priorities i.e. bloated government wage bill due to increased expenditure in parliament and unnecessary international trips and assignments.
• Erratic power supply and obsolete machinery in the industries
• High cost of value addition and beneficiation.
• Partisan implementation of the economic recovery will undermine is good intentions and results in apathy of young people.
Gaps that may undermine benefits to young people
– Lack of mention of a Youth Fund in the economic blue print but women have deliberate Women Development Fund.
– Lack capacity to popularize the framework so that it has a buy in from young people.
– The timeframe is too short to implement everything in the economic plan.
– No concrete strategies to depolarize and change perceptions about certain institutions that are still labeled partisan by some sections of young people.
Lastly but more importantly, youths have a very critical role to monitor and evaluate progress made towards expected outcomes and benchmarks highlighted in the document.
By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni