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 policymakers now make reference it. There is now increased interest in peace and conflictresilience, transitional justice and resilience, gender-based violence and resilience. 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 viewpoint of the youth, the utility of their socio-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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Why don’t citizens trust the government

In two recent reports, RAU has looked at the issues around political trust, trustworthiness, social capital and political participation.We carried out two different exercises. The first was to examine political trust over time, with the notion that political trust (and trustworthiness) should be sensitive to the political and economic context at any one time.The second was to examine in the most recent data, Round 7 (2017) of Afrobarometer, the relationships between all the variables of the political trust, social trust, social capital, etc. We did this in order to understand the more subtle relationships involved in approval and support of the government.

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Political Trust in Zimbabwe over time.

Zimbabwe today is a country more polarised than at any time since Independence (Bratton & Masunungure. 2018), and, despite the brief euphoria over the removal of the Mugabe regime, there seems little prospect that the frequent calls for unity are finding broad acceptance. There are continued disputes over the elections in 2018, and, despite court judgements, conflict over claims of legality and legitimacy by the two major political parties. We also have a sustained decline in the economy, with seemingly little that the government can do about this. However, in the face of the hardships faced by the majority of Zimbabweans, many of whom (and certainly the youth) have known little else for nearly two decades, these calls sound increasingly hollow. We have witnessed scenes of violence and destruction not seen since 1998 and the Food Riots. It seems that the endlessly decried peacefulness of the Zimbabwean citizenry is beginning to break down in the face of the continuing and increasing hardships faced by the ordinary citizen. Unemployment is very high in Zimbabwe, and, despite the conclusions of ZimStat that only 7% are unemployed (ZimStat. 2017), the views of ordinary citizens dispute this: according to the Afrobarometer, most see themselves as unemployed, as not being in full-time employment. According to the Census, unemployment has been dropping since 2002, from 12% in 2002 to 7% in 2017, but the Afrobarometer shows an opposite picture. The point here is that the way in which citizens perceive their own economic situation is a probable source of conflict, and this has already occurred in 2019 with persistent industrial action by a variety of government workers.

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Political trust, social trust and trustworthiness in Zimbabwe?

Political trust is an important factor in ensuring compliance with governance and governments, and there is a growing an extensive literature on this useful concept (Newton. 2001; Levi & Stoker. 2000). It is frequently examined in surveys on the political views of citizens, and questions about political trust have been included in every Afrobarometer survey carried out in African countries, Zimbabwe included, since 1999.
A previous study on political trust in Zimbabwe examined political trust over time, from 1999 to 2017 (RAU. 2019). This study demonstrated that frequencies of strong political trust in government officials and agencies were low, little more than 30% ever expressed strong political trust, and, furthermore, that trust was minimised by political fear, and for every year since, and including 1999. It also demonstrated that the frequencies of strong political trust were a feature of rural residence (and possibly political affiliation).

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“Counting the Gains” is a condensed profile of the work of Zimbabwean women members of parliament, a collection celebrating female leaders traditionally marginalised in politics and by the media. This photo book was conceived, not just to showcase the contribution of women political representatives at a national level but also, to demonstrate that the fight for gender equality is truly on course. It records for posterity a wide range of issues tackled by legislators under the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus (ZWPC) during the five-year (2013-2018) tenure of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe. “Counting the Gains” highlights the successes, the challenges and the global aspirations of Zimbabwean women – from local grassroots development projects to the formulation of international laws to promote social justice and a fair world. Beyond seeing the book as “medium” to broadcast voices

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Violations against teachers report 2019

Zimbabwe has an enviable record in Africa for the quality of its educated population. The enormous investment in education from the beginning of Independence in 1980, has drawn favourable comment in Africa and around the world. It is thus deeply disturbing that schools have become sites of repression and teachers targets for repression. Children have been forced to attend political rallies, schools have become places where partisan political meetings political meetings take place, and teachers have become the targets of intimidation and violence.
This is no new phenomenon. Teachers were targets for political violence during the Liberation War, and have been targets in most elections since 2000, with 2008 perhaps the worst to date. The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Human Rights Forum) documented 283 cases of human rights violations against teachers in the period from January 2001 to June 2002. In 2008, 50% of teachers in a national sample of 1034 teachers reported an incident of organised violence, with half of these reporting that this happened at school in front of children

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Gender Audit of 2018 Elections

Elections in Zimbabwe have always been bitterly contested affairs since 2000, and women have not been immune from all the problems that emerge during elections. There has been an endless cycle of women victimization when it comes to voting or being elected for political office or within political parties. Many people assumed and hoped that the 2018 elections would bring different and positive results, but the run up to elections became increasingly acrimonious, and the allegations of intimidation and hate speech, particularly towards women, began to increase the closer the country got to the poll.
Predominate amongst the reasons why women do not participate in politics is the perception that participating in politics is dangerous. Although women believe that they should participate in politics, many are fearful of doing so, and with good justification. In the aftermath of the excessively violent 2008 elections, 52% of the 2158 women stated that they had been victims of violence while 14% had been physically injured.2 An overview of violence against women during elections showed that women were increasingly becoming victims during elections: the study showed an increase of women experiencing violence during elections, from 0.1% in 1980 to 20% in 2002, and then a sudden increase to 62% in 2008.3

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Are Zimbabweans Polarised

Afrobarometer surveys on Zimbabwe frequently run into criticism about both the methodology and the findings. This was the case with the public release of the Round 7 (2017) survey results. A particular bone of contention was what to make of apparently contradictory findings. For example, participants were confused by the findings that a majority of Zimbabweans both trust and fear the President, Robert Mugabe. This confusion was driven apparently by a failure to appreciate the limitations of quantitative research. The methodological confusion was answered by the Afrobarometer itself (Howard & Logan. 2017), but another issue emerged from the criticism. This was more interesting, and we hypothesized that this might derive from the actual knowledge base of the critics. It raised the question about whether the critics were as informed about the views and opinions of the Zimbabwean polity as they claimed. It led us to speculate that the critics were an “elite”, and, as such, more detached from the reality of public opinion than they knew. There was some basis for this hypothesis derived from an earlier study that suggested the middle class was composed of “disconnected democrats” (RAU. 2015).

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