THE Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) this week released its unemployment figures for the third quarter of the year. It said the unemployment rate has risen to 21% from 19,7%.
It said the national unemployment (expanded) rate now stands at 47,8% from 46%, with “unemployment ... more pronounced in females (23,7%) compared to males (19%”.
The statistics become more frightening: The national proportion of youths aged between 15 and 34 years who were not in employment, education or training was estimated at 50,2%. Females aged between 15 and 34 are at 59,5%, while males are at 40%.
The proportion of youths not in education, employment or training in Matabeleland North province was at 58,1%, the highest in Zimbabwe. This was followed by Matabeleland South (54,1%), Mashonaland West (53%) and Midlands at 49,2%.
The statistics show that half of the youth have nothing to do.
This is the most active population which should be doing most of the work by virtue of having the energy and the willingness to learn.
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If the most active of the population have nothing else to do, it spells doom for the future and should jolt the government into action.
The closure of companies means that those that are supposed to go to work are sitting at home. Every year, universities and colleges offload thousands of graduates into the market which has no opportunities.
We have thousands that have never seen a payslip in their lives as there are no opportunities. These are the potential taxpayers.
Some have turned to hustling, a euphemism for buying and selling. Others have been lost and are susceptible to social ills such as prostitution and drug abuse.
Zimbabwe is battling a surge in drug abuse, especially among the youth, with the government disclosing on Tuesday that the blitz against illicit drugs had netted 468 offenders.
Out of these, 36 were suppliers who were referred to court, while 432 were drug users and consumers who paid deposit fines, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Jenfan Muswere said in a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday.
He said four bases were destroyed from three provinces: two in Harare (Mbare and Epworth), one in Midlands (Gweru central business district) and one in Mashonaland West (Gwayagwaya shopping centre).
While the blitz is commendable, we are of the view that the government should address the root cause of the problem, which is giving the youth employment opportunities.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently established a Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training ministry to cater for the needs of the youth.
There is a Youth Fund which has in the past been turned into a piggybank by senior government officials.
Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training minister Tinoda Machakaire said on Monday that a probe has been launched into the abuse of the youth funds.
We believe that all hands should be on deck to rescue the 15 to 34 years age group, which is slowly sinking into oblivion.