Youth empowerment is at the heart of Zanu-PF Youth League as it implements President Mnangagwa’s vision of transforming Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030. The revolutionary party’s youth wing has come up with various programmes beneficial to the young people. Our Senior Reporter Tendai Mugabe (TM) caught up with Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi (PT) on the sidelines of the Youth Convention held in Gweru on Thursday to discuss youth empowerment and many other issues affecting young people. Below are excerpts from the interview.
TM: This (convention) is your first interface with President Mnangagwa as the youths. Share with us your brief reflections of the event?
PT: We achieved beyond our expectations. The youths felt honoured that the President and the whole Presidium listened to them the whole day. It was very inspiring indeed.
TM: On youth empowerment, what programmes are you implementing to empower the young people?
PT: First of all, we want to ensure that the Youth League as an institution is empowered. The Youth League is positioning itself like any other corporate organisation in serious business.
We would like to see production led by the Youth League. To strengthen our position we have established various institutions ready to do business. We are also working together with the public and private sectors to deliberately include the youths in development plans
The establishment of the Empowerment Bank is likely to be the panacea to the youth development agenda by our Government. We are encouraging youths to be responsible and diligent in choosing areas of endeavour.
We have engaged line ministries to have a dedicated desk to help the youths to access opportunities available in various Govern- ment-related institutions.
TM: As the young people, do you think Government is doing enough in responding to the concerns of the youths?
PT: It will never be enough as everyday new youths are being born. However, the new dispensation has proved to be pro-youths and we foresee youth issues going to take centre stage.
TM: What is your take to criticism in some circles that the current Youth League leadership is not doing enough to sell the Zanu-PF brand ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections?
PT: Criticism is healthy and it helps us to be focused. With the support we are getting from the President and the entire leadership, very soon genuine critics will start to appreciate our efforts as the Youth League.
Some critics and observers may be using wrong parameters to judge the Youth League. We have solid activities throughout our structures and watch the space as we go for the final kill. After the Youth Convention we have lined up several rallies to mobilise support for our President. Surely, honest critics will be answered.
TM: To what extent does the Zanu-PF manifesto capture issues that affect the young people?
PT: The youths are very happy with the seriousness of our party in prioritising youth issues. Our manifesto is explicit on issues of empowerment, education, job creation and social development. Also critical is the manifesto’s emphasis on youth participation. We shall work with relevant ministers and other stakeholders to implement what is captured in the manifesto.
TM: As the vanguard of the party, what are you doing to ensure a resounding victory for President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF?
PT: I cannot share all our strategies with you, suffice to say we will not leave any stone unturned to deliver a resounding victory. It is all systems go. The machine is well oiled now, no more child play. We will teach political upstarts a rude lifetime lesson and if some are not careful, they may close shop come July 30.
We have the best candidate loved by all Zimbabweans and by the international community. Because of that, our job has been made easier. Our President is a visionary whose principled and honest political life has resonance in young people.
That is why youths in different sectors have adopted the mantra #EDhasMyVote. One should have been in Gweru to see the emotional attachment between the President and the youths.
TM: Can you highlight some of the issues that you want the party leadership to improve with regards to the welfare of the youths?
PT: We want to encourage youth participation in decision-making positions so that they learn from those with experience. Appointments to boards are one way of getting them corporate experience.
Availing financial resources to the youths by financial institutions is also equally important. University education should be accessible and we suggest flexible financing of the same to accommodate disadvantaged students.
Housing is one area which needs attention for the youths. We hope affordable accommodation for new home owners such as flats can be prioritised. Financial support for young entrepreneurs is more important than just jobs.
All these areas and many others areas need interactive platforms like the one afforded by our President in Gweru on May 31, 2018. Policy makers should listen to the youths and speak issues that respond positively to the concerns of our young people.
The youths are excited by the new dispensation as it has been very responsive to youth issues. Youths are encouraged to bring forward suggestions on how they would want Government to support their various aspirations. We help the youths to create organisational structures that will assist to receive Government programmes aimed at empowering them
TM: What is your word of advice to the youths insofar as party ideology and discipline is concerned?
PT: Patience pays. Learn the ropes first from the leadership around you and with time you will be up there. There is no need to rush. Be disciplined and respect the founding values and principles of our revolution.
Observe the lips of our President, he always preaches love, unity and development. You will not go wrong if you are a loyal to the dictates of our party and its constitution.