HEAL Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Youth Day. The theme for this year, Transforming Food System: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health underscores the need for meaningful participation of young people.
The commemorations help to evaluate how governments and other key stakeholders such as civic organisations are utilising education to make strides towards the attainment of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a United Nations agenda that envisages ending poverty in all its forms, respect for human rights, human dignity, and the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination.
For Zimbabwe, this year’s commemorations take place against a background where there is high unemployment among youths. This high unemployment has been exacerbated by economic collapse and COVID-19-induced lockdowns that have crippled the economic function of the majority of youths.
Section 20 of the Constitution states that “the State should ensure that youths are afforded opportunities for employment and other avenues of economic empowerment”. The same section of the Constitution also compels the State to ensure youths are protected from all forms of abuse.
Given past violent electoral periods such as 2008, where there was total economic collapse and high levels of unemployment, it is not debatable that most youths who were abused by political entrepreneurs to perpetrate violence were unemployed. Added to this, article 14 of the African Youth Charter obligates African Union member States like Zimbabwe to eradicate poverty and ensure socio-economic integration of youths.
The August 2018 and January 2019 extra-judicial killings of mostly youths have cast doubt on governments’ sincerity to peacefully address or prioritise youth issues without resorting to violence and brute force.
On the occasion of this year’s Youth Day commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe implores the government to uphold and promote a culture where youths enjoy their human rights.
Added to this, government must put in place measures and policies that ensure that concerns of youths are protected and addressed especially during this COVID-19 period. -Heal Zimbabwe