Zimbabwe: Unemployment Could Drive Youths Into the Streets - MDC-T

The high employment rate among the youths could soon spark riots in the country, the MDC-T warned last week.

The party's youth assembly secretary for information, Clifford Hlatshwayo urged government to urgently overhaul the country's education to put emphasis on entrepreneurship skills to hedge against high unemployment.

This, he said, would prevent violent protests. "The greatest challenge that is facing the economy is youth unemployment coupled with a rigid education system churning out thousands of youths into the labour market where most of these cannot get formal employment," said Hlatshwayo.

"Unemployment is the basis of the violent politics in the southern African country."

He said as long as graduates continued to be churned out of schools, universities and colleges without any meaningful investment being recorded, the unemployment rate would continue to rise. It is estimated that unemployment tops 80% in the country but independent analysts say that this percentage could be conservative.

The rate of unemployment has been worsened by retrenchments and company closures necessitated by a decade-long economic recession. Hlatshwayo warned Zanu PF against using the unemployed youths to engage in political violence to sustain its political survival.

"The same jobless youths are used to perpetrate violence against reformers," he said.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo however dismissed accusations that the former liberation war movement was hiring unemployed youths to cause violence and lawlessness in the country. High unemployment continues to push many people into the informal sector.

According to the Mid-Term Plan 2011-2015, 80% of the labour force was in the informal sector. A United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) 2011 report said the number of the formally employed in the country stood at 3,6 million in 2003.

Ocha said at the close of 2008, only 6% of the population was formally employed, down from 30% in 2003.

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