By Alois Vinga
RENOWNED economist, Dr Godfrey Kanyenze, says youth in Zimbabwe have a 4% chance of getting a formal job amid calls for economic policies to adopt Sustainable Human Development approaches in order to transform the situation for the better.
The latest data, throws the situation of the young into jeopardy and is consistent with earlier findings by the government-run Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) which established that about 2,3 million youths are neither in education, employment nor training.
Thousands of youngsters are coming out of college around this time of the year with degrees and diplomas in various areas of specialty in anticipation of securing better jobs.
But in his latest published book titled, “Zimbabwe Leaving So Many Behind: The Link between Politics and the Economy”, Kanyenze establishes that poverty continues to roar against the young.
“This inequality is not only engendered, adversely affecting women, the youth, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
“Youth aged 15-24 years or 15-34 years have only a 2% and 4% chance, respectively, of getting a formal job as most have to eke out a living in the sprawling informal economy,” the book said.
The book says while inequality had initially declined from a gini- coefficient of 0,63 in 1995/96 to 0,42 in 2011/12, it worsened to 0,45 in 2017 and 0,50 by 2019 and has seen the richest, who make up 10% of the population, consume 20 times more than the poorest 10%.
The learned economist established that the wrenching structural regression the economy has undergone has seen poverty levels remaining above 70% since the mid-1990s, way above those experienced in Sub-Saharan Africa and the world average.
“Typically, poverty has a rural and woman’s face. The austerity measures implemented since September 2018, as well as consecutive droughts in 2019 and 2020, have witnessed a rise in poverty levels, which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic such that as at end of 2020, 7.9 million Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty and barely half are covered by at least one form of social protection,” he said.
In light of the current challenges , the book says it is important to refocus the national development strategy towards human-driven and centred, Sustainable Human Development (SHD) which puts people at the centre of the development process, and its central tenet involves the creation of an enabling environment where people can enjoy life.
“SHD is pro-people, pro-jobs, and pro-nature. It gives the highest priority to poverty reduction, productive employment, social integration, and environmental regeneration. It brings human numbers into balance with the coping capacities of societies and the carrying capacities of nature ,” the book underscores.
If properly employed, it also recognizes that not much can be achieved without a dramatic improvement in the status of women and the opening of all opportunities to women.
The book observes that unlike the current policies which have a conventional or traditional approach to growth, often equating it to development and believing that it would ‘trickle down’ and benefit everyone, in the context of human development, it is seen as a means rather than an end in itself.
“Such approaches acknowledge that a country may achieve high levels of growth, but that does not mean it has a high level of human development. Economic growth is therefore a necessary but insufficient condition for SHD.
“What is critical for human well-being, therefore, is the quality and distribution of growth, not just its quantity. Instead of waiting for the benefits of growth to trickle down to the majority, SHD acknowledges the people as the agents of development, and hence requires their empowerment in order to expand their capabilities to contribute directly to growth,” added Kanyenze.
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By Alois Vinga