YOUTHS have said their hopes of getting employment have been dashed after President Robert Mugabe, accused of decimating the country’s economy in the past three decades, won last month’s disputed elections.
REPORT BY HAZVINEI MWANAKA
The 89-year-old leader, in power since 1980, secured 61% of the vote while his main political nemesis, MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai got a paltry 34%.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe rigged the poll in his favour.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) said the country was heading for an economic disaster as Zanu PF would continue to pursue the policy of indigenisation which discourages foreign investment and employment creation.
The union said the policy was only benefitting youths with links to Zanu PF.
Zinasu national spokesperson, Zechariah Mushawatu said the unemployment rate was going to worsen under the new Zanu PF administration.
“Unless the new government takes austerity measures to resolve the [economic] issues, the country’s unemployment rate will continue to escalate,” said Mushawatu. “More university graduates will continue to pervade the streets in desperate pursuit for better living conditions.”
The country’s unemployment rate tops 85% and more people are becoming jobless every day as more firms shut down citing harsh economic conditions.
“Students have already lost hope, the number of unemployed youths is rising up and there is no hope that things will change for the better in the next five years,” said Mushawatu. “A lot of students have been disadvantaged by the indigenisation law which only empowers a few individuals; again the law scares away investors.”
Youth Agenda Trust (YAT) programmes officer, Lawrence Mashungu concurred that most youths had lost hope in the face of a Zanu PF victory.
“Many youths have been devastated by the election results,” he said. “As youths, we need to restore our confidence so that we continue to play an active role in the democratisation of Zimbabwe.”
But Nyasha Chiguma, a University of Zimbabwe student said it was too early to paint a gloomy picture.
“We have to give them some time and evaluate along the way,” said Chiguma.
The students said they did not believe in the Zanu PF manifesto and saw it as just a strategy that was used to lure the electorate ahead of elections.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general, Japhet Moyo said it was questionable that Zanu PF would be able to create over one million jobs given the fact that it failed to do so in the past 33 years.
“When Zanu PF came into power in 1980, the country had a low unemployment rate of 26%. For the past 33 years it has been in power, Zimbabwe has had an alarming unemployment rate of over 95%,” said Moyo. “Lack of employment opportunities chased away the country’s graduates to other countries in search of better prospects. Unless they change their policies, we doubt that the prevailing conditions will change.”
ZCTU is the country’s largest labour body that represents the interests of workers.
An independent economic analyst, Christopher Mugaga also took a jibe at MDC-T’s electoral promises.
The MDC-T, through Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital, and Ecology (Juice) programme also said it intended to create one million jobs by 2018 and a US$100 billion economy by 2040.
Mugaga said it was “an exaggeration” by the party that it could create one million jobs in five years as “this can only be attained over a 12-year period on average”.
ZANU PF PROMISED one MILLION JOBS
In its manifesto, Zanu PF said it would indigenise at least 1 138 foreign-owned companies and unlock empowerment value from idle assets of proven mineral claims and others in the hands of parastatals and local authorities.
It promised to create over one million jobs in the first year, with 348 000 jobs being in the agricultural sector alone.
The manifesto said that one million jobs had already been created as a result of the land reform programme which was spearheaded by war veterans in 2000.
Since the land invasions, which saw hundreds of white-owned commercial farms invaded, Zimbabwe has not been able to adequately feed its population.