Violent protests: Youth poverty and unemployment

The violent disturbances that rocked Harare and other major cities in August 2018 and January 2019 saw an unprecedented number of youths participating. To ignore the reasons why these young people took heed to calls for demonstrations would be at one’s own peril. From a national security perspective, this should be a cause for concern.

By Brightface Mutema,Our Reader

One should be wondering how this continued disgruntlement among the 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 for manipulation by political players who want to push forward their own agendas. As a result, the youths succumb to the pressure to participate as they don’t have an option at their disposal.

The unstable economic environment has led to the proliferation of the informal sector and parallel (black) market, which have absorbed most young people as agents and dealers. Most youths, especially from poor and vulnerable families have been subjected to street vending, begging, illicit deals, alcohol abuse, and even as cannon fodder 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 the country 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 that following the violent demonstrations, there were insinuations that the youths who participated had 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 into the central business districts. 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 nomatter how loudly we cry about sanctions, America and her allies are not going to lift them until regime change materialises in Zimbabwe.

Just last 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 among youths is solved and done away with, our young boys and girls will remain restive. Interestingly, the late great Mahatma Gandhi said poverty is the worst form of violence.

2 Comments

  1. The widely ignored reality is that a disoriented and fractured society, mainly the youth, will remain a burden and nuisance to any political formation in the future.Whilst the inculcation of the culture of violence might be taken advantage of by some political formations to gain mileage, that value system will be very difficult to supplant in generations to come.For instance, whilst it doesn’t need rocket science to foretell the political fortunes of the country in the next 5-10 years, it will not be the same for the value system in the country.For some who had pre-independence experiences, violence,laziness and vandalism,impunity, however contextualised and explained, were not part of the value system. One can’t fail to regret the new value system which seems to glorify the violent disregard of the rule of law.There is need to throw caution to the wind.

  2. It is all because of the unstable economic environment and the development of black market. Youth does not know what to do but work as agents and dealers.

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