‘Youths are our future leaders’.
This adage is thrown about in most social and political gatherings. National leaders are always urging community leaders to afford youth more opportunities to positively contribute towards the development of societies. In principle, it is a fact that the present generation shall not live forever hence the youth shall “take over” someday.
Instead of nurturing and grooming new and fresh leaders to ensure that the youth are ready for leadership responsibilities, they are instead alienated from many facets of social and developmental processes. This makes it difficult for them to assume influential positions in communities.
Although youth empowerment is mentioned repeatedly, there are no corresponding actions to concretise those purported ideals and commitments. RAU research on community security, provides strong evidence that youth are not recognized and instead, they are both excluded and they exclude themselves from participating in community events.
The youth revealed some of the reasons behind their failure to take part in community development:
Many of the youth who are unemployed feel they are a burden and liability to their parents, guardians and the society at large. They feel attending community meetings is simply a waste of time as issues discussed there are not beneficial to them. They would rather spend time, eking out a living and scavenging for money to make ends meet, than ‘waste’ time sitting at community meetings which yield no results for them. Youth in communities are seen as redundant and no one is addressing this perception. Instead the elite are concentrating on acquiring more wealth, grabbing every opportunity to enrich themselves without giving the younger generation a chance to establish themselves financially.
Youth mentioned they are excluded from decision making processes because they are seen as juveniles who have nothing constructive to contribute towards social development.Many of them attend social gatherings as passengers who are merely waiting to alight when they reach their destinations. They claim that the elders disregard their input saying ‘imi muri zvanana, munotaureiko, garai pasi’ implying that youths are useless and their ideas hold no value.
Youths’ contend that their community leaders are so engrossed in political matters that it is over-emphasised in every aspect of life.. Youths are deprived of benefits and opportunities simply because they are not affiliated with the dominating political party. When resources come into the community, everyone is entitled to benefit but most youths in community are excluded because they do not have households of their own and can only benefit if they are recognised within structures of the ruling party.
The youth only feel their ‘value’ during election campaigning when senior politicians use them as brigades to instill fear and intimidate community members to vote for the ‘ideal party’. Their endeavours are rewarded with liquor and small amounts of money..
These issues lead to youth disengaging from socio-political activities in order to focus on income generation. It is impossible for them to participate in their communities therefore they do not aspire to greater things. The youth place the entire blame on the leaders, whom they accuse of reneging on their numerous promises.
Wendy Tagarira 02.09.15