Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
The United States launched a US$5 million initiative to expand economic opportunities for Zimbabwean youths, a further sign that President Mnangagwa’s reengagement efforts and investment-luring drive are starting to work.
Last month Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo set the stage for better collaboration between Zimbabwe and the US when he held fruitful talks with the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor Nagy.
In that engagement Dr Moyo told Ambassador Nagy that President Mnangagwa is keen to close the long chapter of suspicion between Zimbabwe and the US so that the two countries can be on the same page.
The gesture by the US is a sign of relations on the mend, and the US$5 million initiative is specifically for youths to help them emerge from the economic pinch brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown.
“USAID would like young people to take the driver’s seat,” said USAID’s Zimbabwe Mission Director Mr Art Brown at the Local Works Zimbabwe Stakeholder virtual meeting yesterday.
“Our approach under the Local Works programme is slightly different from the traditional method of development programme design and implementation. We want you as young people to take the lead in defining and addressing the diverse challenges you face so that we support you to meet your social and economic needs.”
Mr Brown was clear in his presentation that Zimbabwe has the capacity to address its challenges since the country was already recording successes on the macroeconomic front after managing to stabilise the prices and the exchange rate through the auction system.
“This new Local Works program shows our commitment to supporting the people of Zimbabwe, because Zimbabwean ideas, Zimbabwean innovators, and Zimbabwean entrepreneurs have what it takes to transform this economy,” said Mr Brown.
“We understand that Zimbabwe’s journey to self-reliance must begin with locally led development. We will support local actors – young people, communities, youth networks, organisations, the private sector,” he said.
USAID was launching the programme at a time Zimbabwe was on the road to recovery from the Covid-19 disruptions.
“It is vital for any successful Covid-19 recovery strategy to focus on youth. Though older people suffer disproportionately from the health consequences of Covid-19, young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic, educational, and social consequences of the virus,” he said.
Mr Brown said he has always had an affection for Zimbabwe. “I visited Zimbabwe twenty years ago when I was living next door in Botswana, and since that short trip two decades ago I knew I would come back.
“It is a place where I have always wanted to live, work, and explore. Zimbabwe is a great nation with a lot to offer and wonderful people who make it a fantastic place to be,” he said.
Dr Moyo has been on a massive drive to lure foreign cooperation and his mission has been clear with a consistent message that Zimbabwe was open to work with anyone.
His diplomatic engagements have seen countries pledging their commitment and eagerness to work with and invest in Zimbabwe.
Just last week Belarus joined a US firm John Deere in partnering Zimbabwe in the farm agriculture mechanisation projects.
In an engagement this week Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rangsung Masakui said investors from his country mainly interested in the mining, renewable energy and manufacturing sectors will also be coming to explore soon after the restrictions on travel are lifted.
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