Mugabe caps 10,000 new jobless every year

via Mugabe caps 10,000 new jobless every year by Mail & Guardian

CLARENCE Siziba is your typical used car salesman: he talks fast, has pointy shoes and wears large shades. Except that on the wall inside his makeshift office is his three-year-old science degree.

As he flips through a catalogue for a truck a client is looking for, he jokes about how little he is applying what he learned in four years of ­university in his line of work.

“I wish I could say there’s a ­science to selling cars, but this is just a way to make a living,” he says.

His car lot stocks imported used cars from Japan and the United Kingdom. Like many of the hundreds of similar car lots that litter Harare, his business barely breaks even. But he is grateful that he at least can make a living.

Each year, Zimbabwe churns out close to 10,000 graduates from its 13 universities. But as businesses downsize and lay off workers, few of those graduates have any real chance of a job. And so they end up in the informal sector, hustling with everyone else.

According to Zimstat, the national statistics agency, about 60,143 students enrolled in universities last year.

Tough job market

But after the joy of being capped at graduation, the reality of the task of cracking an increasingly tough job market soon sets in.

Labour unions say at least 100,000 jobs have been lost since 2004. And while the economy has experienced some recovery over the past four years, companies have had to lay off workers to cut costs.

A recent report by the national pension fund said that more than 700 companies had shut down in Harare alone since 2011, swelling the jobless ranks.

There is no agreement on exactly what Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is. Various sources put it at anything between 70% and 80%. However, the government says these figures ignore the contribution of the informal sector, and it counts the self-employed among the employed.

Zimstat says unemployment actually stands at 10.7%, a figure dismissed by economists and unionists.

Zimstat director Mutasa Dzinotizei says these statistics are drawn from a survey held between 2011 and 2012, which shows that the other widely used figures were inaccurate.

Opponents unsure

Even the government’s opponents are unsure. While he was finance minister, Tendai Biti said those touting jobless numbers as high as 85% were “textbook economists” who ignored the informal market.

Yet, his own party puts the unemployment rate at 80%, saying that it may have peaked at 92%. Zanu PF, in its election manifesto, put the rate at about 60%, higher than the official number.

What is not in dispute is that much of Zimbabwe’s formal economy has been decimated, replaced by a booming informal market.

A Zimstat survey, which sampled more than 6-million people between the ages of 16 and 18, revealed that 22% of the population was in formal employment last year, while 57% were farmers or ran small businesses. About 3.7 million Zimbabweans had some sort of involvement in informal trade.

But labour expert and economist Charles Tembedza says the official data actually counts for little.

“What we agree on, and what you will not hear any of the bureaucrats argue with, is the fact that we are not creating the jobs that our young people need,” he says. “We should worry when our graduates take odd jobs to survive.”

According to the central bank, the informal sector now contributes between 60% and 70% to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product, six times the level a decade ago.

Where graduates end up

As a sign of the growing informal sector, a new report by researchers Knowledge Transfer Africa found that about $14-million exchanged hands between January and June this year at Mbare Musika, the country’s largest vegetable market.

So this is where many of the country’s graduates end up; barely making a living, and not using any of the skills they have gained.

A survey by human resources experts Industrial Psychology Consultants shows that graduates are spending more than five years after graduating without formal jobs in their field of study.

When asked how they were earning a living, most graduates responded “by indicating some form of buying and selling. Many ideas were pointed out, like chickens, cellphones or some form of services they are offering to people”, the report said.

Says Memory Nguwi, who heads the company that did the research, “The huge disconnect between job creation and the skills supply is illustrated by a paradox of the current economy: persistent, high unemployment exists alongside severe skills shortages and unfilled positions in many companies.”

It is a situation car dealer Siziba knows too well. “The country needs our knowledge, but then, on the other hand, we are not needed.” Persistent high unemployment exists alongside severe skills shortages and unfilled positions in many companies

Capped by president

It is a ritual most graduates look forward to: bending a knee in front of President Robert Mugabe and receiving a gentle tap on the head.

Despite the hostility among students, as campuses have long been a breeding ground for opposition politics, everyone still wants to graduate top of their class to qualify to be capped by the president.

“It’s kind of funny that we campaign a lot against him, against how he has ruined education, but still scramble for his blessing,” says blogger Tavaka Nyoni, who graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Zimbabwe last year.

“It’s like much of Zimbabwe really; we say we despise him (Mugabe), but there is a secret admiration for him somewhere in there.”

Over the past few months, Mugabe has capped thousands of graduates from at least five universities across the country. Despite his age, it is not unusual for him to spend hours at each stop capping hundreds at a time.

He once capped thousands at two separate universities in a single day.

Last week, after capping more than 1,200 at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, the jubilant graduates broke into chants of “Gushungo” as he conferred degrees, state media reported. Gushungo is Mugabe’s totem, popular among his supporters.

In September, while capping more than 2,000 at the University of Zimbabwe, there was a similarly jubilant reaction among graduands. But the popular ritual is merely a passage for graduates from student to the ranks of the unemployed.

“Every time there is a graduation at any of Zimbabwe’s universities and colleges, the national unemployment rate goes up,” quipped Pride Mkono, the leader of the national students union, Zinasu, at its conference.


  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 10 years ago


  • comment-avatar
    Patriot 10 years ago

    Our President was at NUST for graduation, arrived 2hours late and did mass cappings for the students. Only selected students went up individually. They were very disgruntled complaining of travelling long distances to not be capped individually. They were not even congratulated

  • comment-avatar
    BossMyass 10 years ago

    No food, no money, no education, no water, no electricity, no roads, no lights, no freedom, no human rights, no dignity, no future, no respect, no self-esteem, no civilization, no beliefs, no ethics, no common sense, no moral values, no principles. I am proud black racist, living with fear, xenophobia, corruption, surrounded by beggars, wise guys, savages, simpletons. I have no history, I expect nothing, I am nothing, and I am the global disgrace. All I care is the colour of the skin of others and my God the almighty U.S dollar. Live and let die. I am good for nothing. “God save his Excellency the KING Robert Mugabe” who saved us from the big bad wolf the bustard whites and took absolutely everything from us for his self and his gang. I am the most selfish and stupid person in Africa, I am free and proud to be Zimbabwean.

  • comment-avatar
    Tabvuma 10 years ago

    Given the choice I think most of the student wouldn’t dare to be capped by Mugabe ,knowing that you woke up in the morning without electricity , no water ,no taxi fare .

  • comment-avatar
    Kubota Binga 10 years ago

    Congrats fellow NUST graduates, it will work out. Your degree is your asset, even in the face of unemployment, only you know the value of your degree. Congratluations, Happy Mfundo to you All.
    Kubota Kwiiya. Kubota NUST, Kubota Bulawayo, Kubota Zimbabwe!!!!

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    muvengwa munondivengerei 10 years ago

    The positive is that the people are better educated and most commentators conveniently ignore this fact. It takes will-power and money to educate these people.

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    Chivulamapoti 10 years ago

    GUSHUNGO means crocodile, an animal that waits underwater, eyes only above, for it’s prey. Strikes and drags it down to drown it and then hide in roots or a cave to rot, juts like Mugarbage is doing to Zimbabwe.

    -If we were really free, professionals would not be escaping to the diaspora.

    If we were free, we would not be lying prostrate on the ground, begging (South African president) Thabo Mbeki to remove visa requirements for Zimbabweans.

    If we were free, every one of us would afford basic health, leisure and education. If we were free, “retired” colonels would not be managing para-statals and commissions.

    If we were free, each province would have its own private radio station and newspaper, airplanes would be flying in and out of Zimbabwe full of tourists. Fuel would be flowing at all service stations, at affordable rates.

    If we were free, there would be clean water in Tafara, decent housing in Dangamvura and no nightly electricity power outages in Zimre Park.

    Had we been free, property rights and access to justice would be respected.

    If we were really free, Gushungo – the illegally ruling one, would have retired from politics in 1990.

    “Cry, Cry My Beloved Country”.

    – See more at:

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    easily fooled 10 years ago

    Gushungo means woman hood, those who yearn to give in sexually. Yu need not to be surprised when he sells (prostitute) zim resources to China, learned graduates to South Africa. He just yearns to give. We need to be lead by such totems as the Baboon (Gudo) or Lion. Gudo will ensure it grabs resources next door for the benefit of Zim. Diro ndizvo manje

    • comment-avatar
      BossMyass 10 years ago

      How Did We Get Here?
      So how did we get to this place in our world where so many great thinkers distrust anything that is claimed as truth? How did we get to the point where we trust nothing and, at the same time, embrace everything? Let me tell you about my grandmother. She never had any doubt that there was a singular truth. She grew up in Naples, Italy and spent her early life in a world of common dreams, common values, common faith, common enemies, common holidays, and common lives. In a place like this, everyone agrees on what is true and what is a lie, at least when it comes to the major worldview issues. But my grandmother eventually migrated to the world’s greatest experiment in multi-culturalism: the United States. There is no other country in the history of mankind that has tried to blend so many different people with so many different backgrounds. Here, my grandmother had to confront the realization that there is more than one way to consider the world. She found herself in a place where few people agreed about ANYTHING. But she learned quickly that disagreeing about truth is not the same as believing that there simply is no truth to argue about; disagreeing about the truth does not mean that truth cannot be known.

  • comment-avatar
    Chaussures Vans 10 years ago

    “The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.”