• 21 Feb, 2024
  • United Zimbabwe Alliance

UZA 2024 Statement on National Youth Day

“Commemorating the Spirit and Struggles of Zimbabwean Youth”

Salutations to all Zimbabweans on this special National Youth Day. Today, as we recognize the vigor and ambition of our nation's youth, it's essential to confront the challenging realities that obstruct their success in our beloved homeland.

Challenges Facing Zimbabwean Youth:

1. Child Marriages: Shockingly, statistics reveal that 34% of girls in Zimbabwe are married before the age of 18, with 5% forced into marriage before their 15th birthday. This reprehensible practice is not limited to gender, as 2% of boys also suffer from early marriages. We decry this injustice, recognizing its deep-rooted correlation with poverty, lack of education, and social exploitation. The tacit acceptance of child marriages by certain religious sects and the government's complacency in addressing this issue is disheartening.

2. Drug Abuse: Our youth face a grave threat from the scourge of drug abuse. Disturbingly, Zimbabwe boasts the highest rate of 15 to 19-year-olds engaged in heavy episodic drinking in Africa. The proliferation of substance abuse, including cannabis, cough syrup, and methamphetamine, presents a clear and present danger to our nation's future. We must bolster law enforcement efforts and tighten border control to stem the tide of this epidemic.

3. Unemployment and Unfair Labor Practices: The specter of unemployment looms large over our youth, who are disproportionately affected by exploitative labor practices. The government's manipulation of employment statistics to obscure the true extent of joblessness only exacerbates the problem. Urgent action is needed to create meaningful employment opportunities and ensure fair treatment in the workplace.

4. School Dropouts: Education, the cornerstone of a prosperous future, is under threat as many Zimbabwean youth are forced out of school due to exorbitant fees and arbitrary evictions. The inability to afford education fees and the disruption caused by arbitrary evictions jeopardize the academic prospects of thousands of children. We must implement robust social protection measures to safeguard the right to education for all Zimbabwean youth.

Policy Recommendations:

In light of these challenges, the United Zimbabwe Alliance advocates for the following policy interventions:

  • Equitable application of the law to eradicate child marriages and other illicit practices affecting youth.

  • Strengthening law enforcement capabilities to combat drug abuse and trafficking.

  • Implementing sound economic policies to improve the social well-being of all Zimbabweans.

  • Establishing social protection measures to prevent school dropouts and ensure access to education.

  • Prioritising youth-centric job creation initiatives.

  • Suspending arbitrary evictions until due resettlement processes are undertaken.

The United Zimbabwe Alliance stands firm in its commitment to championing the rights and aspirations of Zimbabwe’s youth. We believe that through democratic change and concerted action, we can build a future where all our youth can thrive. As we commemorate National Youth Day, let us renew our resolve to confront these challenges and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.

May the Lord bless us, and may the Lord bless Zimbabwe.
UZA Youth Wing