Senior Court Reporter
The Government is cognisant of the ever-changing global trends and will take full advantage of every opportunity to provide young people with opportunities for growth and participation in the broader national economy, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry has said.
Speaking during a media briefing yesterday on the commemoration of the National Youth Day, Dr Coventry said Government will provide young innovators with opportunities to showcase their talent to Government and stand a chance to secure technical and financial support for their innovations.
“As we celebrate our youths, the Government of Zimbabwe is cognisant of the ever-changing global trends and with it the needs and experiences of young people.
“The National Youth Day is a window of opportunity for engaging young people, to hear their views and opinions, to create dialogue with Government aimed at bridging intergenerational gaps, and most importantly to act on the needs of every young person,” she said.
The day is commemorated on February 21 and when it falls on a Sunday, the following day becomes a public holiday in line with the law. This makes today a public holiday.
Minister Coventry said as the country embarks on transforming into an upper middle-class economy by 2030, this year’s celebrations seek to capture the voices, actions and initiatives of young people and combat the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects that retard socio-economic development.
She said her ministry is proud of youths and will take full advantage of every opportunity to provide them “opportunities for growth and participation in the broader national economy”.
“This year’s National Youth Day will provide young innovators from all walks of life an opportunity to showcase their work to Government and stand a chance to secure technical and financial support for their innovations,” she said.
The Youth Ministry, through the Zimbabwe Youth Council, National Arts Council, Sports and Recreation Commission and the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, will host an online two-day enlightening programme from February 25 to 26, to celebrate National Youth Day.
Minister Coventry bemoaned the impact of Covid-19 on youths in particular, and the rest of the citizens in general.
“Young people who lead active and adventurous lives have been impacted the worst by the global pandemic.
“Ironically, as the world adjusts to a new normal where ICTs have become the answer to the demands of daily activities, it is the resilience, easy adaptation and innovativeness of young people that is called upon,” she said.
In a statement to commemorate the National Youth Day, Zanu PF acting Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Tendai Chirau said they celebrate the day in solidarity with all progressive forces who believe in the “value and power of youth in shaping the desired future of the nation” through acting prudently and responsibly at the present.
“To this end, we join His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and all who are willing to support and march forward with us towards this goal, in celebration. We will forever cherish the sacrifices of our forebears and wish to take this opportunity to urge today’s youth to emulate the youth of yesteryear in being patriotic.
“We remember as well that the 21st of February is the same day that the late former President, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born,” said Cde Chirau.
He said they appreciate the milestones achieved by the Second Republic in pursuit of youth empowerment, which include the setting up of the EmpowerBank and making it more user-friendly bank for youths.
“We applaud Government for having in place provision for an apex youth council, the Zimbabwe Youth Council, in an effort to ensure the interests of young people are attended to in a holistic manner. However, the continued existence of this entity without a representative body comprising youths from all sectors of the social and political economy is both anachronistic and self-defeating.
“The Zimbabwe Youth Council Board needs to be instituted as a matter of urgency,” said Cde Chirau.
Cde Chirau welcomed President Mnangagwa’s decision to prioritise youths in land redistribution and his resolve to ensure that development at grassroots level is self-driven through the devolution programme.
LEAD president Ms Linda Masarira pleaded with President Mnangagwa to prioritise youths and set aside funds for a Government drug rehabilitation centre to help youth who are struggling with drug addiction.
“We need support structures that promote youth in Zimbabwe. There is need for the establishment and strengthening of entrepreneurship education in schools and tertiary institutions to foster the development of an entrepreneurial culture among the youth to facilitate self-employment.
“If we manage to nurture entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment, it will lead to sustainable entrepreneurship which creates jobs for the active population,” said Ms Masarira.
She added that Government should create a conducive and enabling environment for investment, through reducing the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe.
Ms Masarira also said reviving agro-based industries in Zimbabwe should be prioritised since the country an agro-based economy.
The National Youth Day was proclaimed by Government in 2017 in honour of the country’s founding leader, the late former President Mugabe, and recognition and celebrating contributions made by youths throughout the history of the country, as well as for young people to emulate their leadership’s values, patriotism, self-sacrifice, hard work, respect, dignity and compassion.
It has been commemorated annually and youths have embraced it as an opportune moment to celebrate the fruits of a long and hard-won independence and to reflect on their commitment to national development.