Resilience or tolerance? Contextualising youth resilience under economic and political adversity

The paper seeks to examine resilience using the experiences of young people in selected sites in Zimbabwe. It is based on the fact that the concept is slowly creeping into the governance realm breaching its traditional natural science spaces and policy makers now make reference it. There is now increased interest in peace and conflictresilience, transitional justice and resilience, gender based violence and resilience1. However, this paper argues that youth resilience should be context-specific and responses to a plethora of factors that operate within each locality. There are overarching factors that can be identified across the study locations that determine mutually or exclusively the way people respond to externalities including the political repression, surveillance, access to justice, resource endowment in each locality (or lack of the same), economic distribution and cultures of accountability by public duty bearers. These factors intrinsically link with youth participation in democratic governance processes, their innovation in the economic sphere and ultimately, their resilience in Zimbabwe. In view of this dynamic and complexity, we recommend pragmatism and argue that, when defining, understanding and fostering youth resilience, this needs to be viewed from the view point of the youth, the utility of theirsocio-economic networks, youth agency and the various processes that hinder or facilitate the deployment of that agency on a practical basis. This will be a departure from the usual theoretical framing of “resilience” and promote asking the practical questions over resilience.

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Zimbabwe – Political Violence and Elections.

In the context of the momentous changes to the Zimbabwean polity, the predilection for violent political problem solving is examined. By reference to public data on political violence for the period 1998 to 2018, Zimbabwe is compared with four of its neighbours in SADC that share a common history of armed struggle; Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The analysis shows Zimbabwe to the most violent of the five countries, with most violence aimed at civilians by political militia, and a very significant amount of the violence (46%) occurs during elections. Furthermore, the kind of political violence during elections is considerably more serious than that which occurs outside of elections. The findings provide a cautionary background to the forthcoming elections in 2018.

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