On the 24th of November 2011, the Minister of Finance Hon Tendai Biti presented his budget proposition to the parliament of Zimbabwe. In the budget, the MOF aptly recognised the challenges confronting young people: unemployment, limited access to capital sources and high borrowing costs, lack of infrastructure for youth business venture and skills deficit, and sought to put in place measures to address these challenges.
Following a careful look at the provisions of the budget, the CPC notes and cautiously welcome the budgetary provisions on the following specific aspects that invariably have an impact on the livelihoods, development and future of young people and the country in general:
• Youth and Empowerment,
• Small and Medium Scale Enterprises,
• Jobs fund,
• Women Development fund,
• Informal sector,
• Apprenticeship and Internship Schemes,
• Students grant-loan reintroduction.
The intervention and intent of government and its strategic private sectors partners, within the context of the abovementioned strategic areas, in particular the additional resources allocated towards the youth fund and the support for small and medium scale enterprises is both welcome and commendable. However, the youth sub-committee of Committee of the People’s Charter, with the intention of ensuring the full implementation of the programs and the attainment of the desirable outcomes, wishes to raise concerns arising from past experiences regarding such noble initiatives:
• Politicisation of government programs, in the process undermining effectiveness.
• Partisanship nature of the administration of such government-involved funds.
• Conditions attached in order for one to access such funds have traditionally been a hindrance to potential beneficiaries.
These implementation impediments have to a larger extent made it difficult for genuinely deserving young people, with brilliant initiatives and the necessary skills and determination, to access the support. These impediments have also been compounded by lack of proper democratic, transparent and accountable institutions mandated to ensure the smooth implementation of apparently noble initiatives.
To address these short-coming, the CPC proposes the following:
1. Setting up of a inter-ministerial task-force (comprising the Ministries of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Women’s Affairs and Gender, Small to Medium Enterprise development and Finance), mandated to coordinate the administration of these state as well as private funds so as to ensure that deserving young people including females benefit from government’s empowerment initiatives.
2. Setting up of an independent National Youth Development Agency mandated to:
• Initiate, design, co-ordinate, evaluate and monitor all programmes aimed at empowering as well as integrating the youth into dominant players in the spheres of political, economy and society.
• Guide efforts and facilitate economic education and training
• Partner and assist organs of state, private sector and non-governmental organizations and on initiatives aimed at the overall attainment of employment and skills development
• Initiate programmes directed at poverty alleviation, urban and rural development and combating of crime, substance abuse and social decay amongst youth.
• Establish annual priority programmes in respect of youth development.
• Ensure accessibility of youth development information in particular rural youths.
The CPC also call for a 'Public Works Program' - that takes unemployed youth to work in national priority programs. As the youth, we have as many graduates and school leaders who instead of sitting at home could be providing teaching services in rural schools, helping build roads, dams, providing maintenance for schools and cleaning cities.
We further call upon government to put in place an affirmative policy towards ensuring that young people get a quota on all state contracts.
Finally, the Committee of the People’s Charter sub-sector on youth calls upon young entrepreneurs to take the initiative and apply for these funds, put them to good use and effectively contribute towards the renaissance of our country. We wish to make a clarion call on young people to unleash the spirit of innovation that is inherent in them.
Youth Organisations signatories to the Zimbabwe People’s Charter:
Zimbabwe National Students Union
Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe
Students Solidarity Trust (SST)
Achieve your Goal Trust
Zimbabwe Young Christian Student