Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Youth day. The theme for this year is “Transforming education”. The theme underscores the need to ensure that education takes centre stage and becomes inclusive and accessible by all youths since it is an inalienable universal fundamental human right. The theme is also rooted on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 that provides for quality education. Education as a right has a ripple effect and helps accelerate progress across all the 17 SDGs including goal 16 on peace and justice strong institutions. International Youth day is commemorated annually on 12 August.
The commemorations for this year help to evaluate how governments and other key stakeholders such as civic organizations are utilizing 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 rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination. For Zimbabwe, this year’s commemorations are taking place against a background where there is rapid unemployment among the youths in Zimbabwe. The high rates of unemployment have been exacerbated by economic collapse and corruption which if not managed well will prompt youths to carry out a series of protests or resort to vices such as crime, deviancy and prostitution. This is evidenced by the use of various social media platforms by youths to register their frustration on state of the economy and the scourge of unemployment that continues to greatly affect their participation in contributing towards ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development.
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 that 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. The August 2018 and January 2019 extra judicial killings have cast doubt on governments’ sincerity to peacefully address or prioritize youth issues without resorting to violence and brute force. To date, government’s commitment to resolving youth concerns that range from unemployment, healing and reconciliation remains questionable.
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, article 14 of the African Youth Charter compel African Union member states like Zimbabwe to eradicate poverty and ensure socio-economic integration of youths. The right to demonstrate and petition that is exclusively provided for in section 59 of the constitution must be guaranteed and enjoyed by every citizen including young people.