Home » Governance » Youths Celebrate Independence On Empty Stomachs

BULAWAYO — While they appreciate the role played by freedom fighters in liberating the country from colonial rule, many Zimbabwean youths, reeling from the effects of unemployment, feel let down by the government.

Most of the youths the Financial Gazette spoke to over the weekend said independence could have a better and deeper meaning for them if economic challenges bedeviling the southern African country were addressed.

Zimbabweans across the country last Friday celebrated 34 years of independence from Britain by gathering at different provincial and district centres to mark the occasion. The main celebrations were held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, at which President Robert Mugabe called for continued observance of peace.

Celebrated under the theme: “Zim @ 34: Defending our sovereignty and providing enabling environment for sustainable economic empowerment and social transformation,” the celebrations came after ZANU-PF’s resounding victory of over two thirds Parliamentary majority in last year’s harmonised polls. But, youths said the benefits of Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonial bondage were being overshadowed by the economic challenges that have been there for far too long.

“I do appreciate the role played by the comrades in liberating this country from colonialism, bringing to an end racial segregation and discrimination which was there before,” said Titus Phiri, an unemployed Applied Mathematics graduate.

“But looking at the second half of the independence period, and that is from 1999 up to today, it looks like we are now back to what we were liberated from. We no longer enjoy the fruits independence now is only for those who fought for it and their families.” He said it was only those belonging to the ruling ZANU-PF and others connected to them who were benefiting, otherwise the majority of young people were wallowing in poverty.

“I would like to aise this government to desist from being a partisan government and become a national government,” he argued. Tamara Tshuma from Bulawayo’s Kingsdale suburb said the 34 years of independence had brought only political freedom and nothing else.

“Otherwise this independence to me is meaningless,” she said. “Look, I finished my A Level in 2008 and have been applying for nursing but getting rejected every time for all six years. I am just here physically but my mind is already out there because there is no independence to talk about.” She said she felt let down by the government which has failed to create jobs for the young people, forcing them to leave the country against their wishes.

“I am one person who has been patriotic but I am yet to be rewarded for that. I am 26 now but what do I have?” she queried.

Tshuma said government must ensure that its economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) succeeds especially in Matabeleland otherwise young people would continue to flock to other countries in search of employment.

Zibusiso Ndlovu, another Bulawayo resident, said while independence brought access to education for all and other services that blacks were previously denied during colonial times, uhuru has failed to address the economic needs of young people.

“Our education has not responded to our economic needs, there is no economic emancipation for the youth as the economy is still in the hands of the elderly,” said Ndlovu. He said young people remained the poorest in the country despite 34 years of independence, adding the Youth Fund has not benefitted them much due to stringent requirements by financial institutions.

“The other thing, if you look at housing, we have a backlog. We also want to own houses local authorities must relax conditions for acquiring stands,” he said. Political analyst, Thomas Sithole, said there was nothing much to celebrate for the young people in Zimbabwe who have just known one President since independence despite claims of multipartism. He argued that the centralisation of power around one individual has led to the collapse of the economy and more troubles for the younger generation.

“The future looks very bleak for many young Zimbabweans in the foreseeable future,” said Sithole.

Source : Financial Gazette