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Youth poverty and unemployment: Revisiting the January 14 violent protests

05 Apr 2019 at 11:24hrs | Views
The violent disturbances that rocked Harare and other major cities in August 2018 and January 2019 saw an unprecedented numbers of youths participating. To ignore the reasons why these young people took heed to the calls for demonstrations would be at our own peril. From a national security perspective, this should be a cause for concern.
In Zimbabwe we risk losing out on an entire generation due to sanctions induced economic comatose that has dented the future of the young boys and girls hence impoverishing them. This is the reason why calls are growing louder for the removal of these economic embargoes as the innocent are suffering. The kind of a future society in the making is disheartening as there will be perpetuation of a poverty cycle when these youths will not be able to fend for their own kids.

But one should be wondering how this continued disgruntlement amongst our young generation can be a ticking time bomb. An idle mind is the devil's workshop, and if these youths are left unoccupied and wallowing in poverty, they become easy targets to manipulation by political players who want to push forward their agendas. Because they don't have an option at their disposal, they are forced into nefarious activities which most times end up in their incarceration.  

The unstable economic environment during this period of sanctions led to the proliferation of the informal sector and parallel (black) market which absorbed most young people as agents and dealers. Most youths, especially from those families who are not able to adequately provide, have been subjected to street vending, begging, illicit deals, alcohol abuse, and even machinery for violent protests. It becomes very easy for protest organisers to organise the youths who are already in town doing different businesses. That was witnessed in January.

If young people are left with no alternative but unemployment and poverty, they are more likely to join a rebellion as an alternative way of generating an income. The rise of internal violence, like we witnessed in January, with the appearance of street gangs and other manifestations of juvenile violence is one of the most visible effects of poverty not in Zimbabwe alone but in most parts of Africa. I am sure following the violent demonstrations, there were insinuations that the youths who participated been promised some pennies.

In times of social disturbances like violent protests, as witnessed on January 14, 2019, such youths were at the fore of burning tyres and putting barriers on major roads leading to cities. They were the arsenal to the violent protests and succeeded probably due to their age which never raised any suspicions.

I am pretty sure that no-matter how loudly we cry about sanctions, America and her allies are not going to lift them until they see a regime change in Zimbabwe. Just this week, there was about US$5.5 million poured to our CSOs. What for? Your guess is as good as mine and not that lame reason of promoting democracy in Zimbabwe.

Youths who are disgruntled with their government become societal malcontents who can be ready to confront the government in violent protests. Some rogue CSOs are on standby with the greenback to promote insurrection by paying youths to participate. If the youths, as future custodians of the country, fail to see any motivation to be patriotic, they become a national security threat as they are open to abuse by manipulative politicians.  

Poverty is a call to action, and until poverty amongst youths is handled and done away with, our young boys and girls will remain restive. Interesting the late great Mahatma Gandhi said poverty is the worst form of violence.  

Source - Brightface Mutema
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