By Pupurai Togarepi
Recently we were in Mutoko, a beautiful land with beautiful people. It was all square and yet another platform to deliver on the pledges we made towards the watershed elections where the people’s mandate was deservedly given to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In Mutoko, just like all places in Zimbabwe there are vast mineral deposits and rich agricultural land, cultural sites and, of course, youths who have taken the initiative to champion their cause and shape their destinies.
The visit to Mutoko was just but the first of steps towards traversing Zimbabwe imparting life-changing skills and giving our youths the launch-pads that will no doubt propel them to self-reliance as we show the world and naysayers that we mean to walk the talk, and keep the promises and pledges we made just before the elections.
The youths in Mutoko have brilliant ideas, they are keeping goats for export, all along they have kept goats but never before had they had the opportunity to keep them for foreign currency earnings. The Boer goats projects is one among many initiatives for the youths that we have up our sleeves and with which we intend to colour Zimbabwe from Zambezi to Limpopo of course alive to different geographical and climatic conditions.
We have been to Chikombedzi in Masvingo province and also launched the programme in parts of Matabeleland South with the ultimate objective of ensuring that all the youths in Zimbabwe benefit. Indeed as the zanu-pf Youth League, we have lined up several projects that will be game-changers and are realistic goals that as we speak many are reaping from. Through this programme the youths will earn foreign currency thanks to a ready market that we have since secured.
The youths will help not only themselves and their communities at large but also the country as a whole by contributing towards the inflows of the scarce foreign currency. The prevailing forex shortages are a result of low production and low capacity utilisation.
During our visit we were excited because our youths are already putting shoulders to the wheel as young patriotic Zimbabweans who do not want to be left behind as the train of development takes off.
One thing that we discovered is that no one wants to be left behind, everyone who has Zimbabwe at heart, instead of being a cry baby is keen on putting their feet on the pedal. The youths are ready to hustle and earn a decent living.
This effort to reconstruct Zimbabwe is not a stroll in the park, no it is not some gamble but an enormous task that needs young men and women who are ready to use what is abundant in their communities for personal development. The time is now where we start, brick by brick and step by step, reconstruction of this nation which has to fly where others ran because of the lost time, yes we lost about 20 years with no real development.
Apart from empowering youths with various projects, we also have assumed a different approach. Instead of clamouring for 51 percent shares in foreign-owned companies, the confrontational and unrealistic approach that was pursued vigorously in the First Republic, now our approach is to partner those businesses and create a win-win situation.
We respect property rights and we are embracing businesses that seek to empower our youths, as the future of the country to do so now so that hand in glove we reap the products of our sweat. What we certainly abhor is a situation where people just smash and grab, a situation that breeds laziness and lawlessness.
The zanu-pf Youth League believes in hardworking people as the cornerstone for any meaningful development. Thus in Mutoko we sealed one such win-win partnership with a mining company where the youths are going to provide implements and are paid in return. As an example, if we have a mining company, we will provide them enablers for the activities and that will benefit our youths in that particular area. A gold mine in Mutoko may need cyanide or protective clothing, we will come up with youth clusters in that area who will provide just that.
And this brings us to the critical area of devolution. This is the genesis of devolution, something enshrined in our Constitution and which has the attention of none other than President Mnangagwa. To quote the President: “My Government will be implementing the devolution of Government powers and responsibilities . . . I thus call upon all stakeholders, private and public institutions to be alive to this new philosophy of provincial economic development, where provinces are expected to plan and grow their GDPs . . .”
This is what we have in mind and such are the big footprints we desire to follow so that at the end of the day youths from whichever station in life or location identify projects that can benefit not only them but their provinces at large so as to enhance their GDP. Our challenge to the youths is to stop being cry babies but rather to take the initiatives that will not only change their lives but also inspire others in the region.
We are going to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas where youths from different provinces will travel across the country imparting ideas and also getting new ideas in the process. Mutoko was just a first for a massive programme that has since spread to parts of Matabeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.
Our challenge to the youths is get up and be counted, give us your ideas and we will support you, towards creating self-reliance and of course young entrepreneurs. We are results oriented and our objective as the Youth League dovetails with President Mnangagwa vision of making Zimbabwe a middle-income earning country by 2030.
We have budgeted for a marathon and using this platform we are saying to the young people of Zimbabwe let us work even harder now that we have a supportive Government. The youths just have to organise themselves and we will be ready to assist them pursue whatever projects they may have in mind. We are the vehicle for economic transformation. The future looks certainly bright for young people who are prepared to work and not just wait for manna from heaven.
Pupurai Togarepi is Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs, and Chief Whip.