opinionBy Obediah Dodo
When the Diaspora community hears of conflicts in Zimbabwe at the instigation of the youths on the social media, they sometimes believe it, especially if the multinational media houses are peddling the news.
The multinational media houses, also referred to as international media, have created an impression that they are the most credible news outlets. The fact that they have the capacity to shut out any deemed rival through a variety of mechanisms, flashy news and quality pictures, on-the-dot news release and wider coverage, among others, makes them extremely powerful.
However, to an objective and well-balanced observer who has been in Zimbabwe or at least has shared some moments with some level-headed Zimbabweans abroad, obviously minus those who went out claiming to be fleeing severe political persecution, those claims can easily be rubbished as falsehoods.
One indisputable fact is that generally Zimbabweans are an educated and peaceful lot who would wish to see development and harmony flourishing.
My argument focuses on the role of the youths in Zimbabwe in fostering development especially in view of the fact that the Government has once again exposed the generality of the population - especially those that have traditionally been disadvantaged economically and socially - to yet another economic empowerment opportunity.
Since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, there have been several programmes meant to benefit and uplift the lives of the local people and indeed, thousands of lives have been transformed positively. In 2000, there was a successfully implemented land reform programme which also and indisputably improved the lives of several other thousands of people and created downstream opportunities.
In 2007, Government also embarked on a programme called indigenisation and economic empowerment, which seeks to review ownership of the capital with a view to equitably redistribute it between Zimbabweans and foreigners. This comes against a backdrop of pathetic situations in other countries especially our neighbours, where people are languishing in the abyss of poverty, with nothing to claim as theirs.
When the Government hinted at driving towards economic empowerment in the form of acquiring corporate shareholding, the opposition political parties (MDC and MDC-T) opposed and during the process threatened to exclude its supporters from the programme.
During the land reform programme, some pessimists chose to watch from afar believing that the reform was a political gimmick till it was too late for them to get a piece of the cake. Prior to any of the two empowerment drives, the land reform and economic empowerment, both land and the industries were in the hands of the few foreign investors.
Interestingly, during the period in question, very few youths were in the corridors of the economy and few dreamt of ever owning valuable properties. This argument develops albeit wondering why the private motivation hypothesis has failed to prove itself a reality in Zimbabwe. According to renowned scholars and researchers, the hypothesis posits that uneducated and idle youths take advantage of conflict situations to find employment either as hired hooligans or as thieves.
Hypothetically, conflicts create opportunities to steal en masse, profiteer from shortages, and trade in prohibited and other merchandise. However, from a closer look at the situation on the ground, nothing tangible has been and is being experienced in Zimbabwe. This is totally contrary to the picture that the multinational media and some local politicians have presented to the Diaspora community that has subsequently decided to cut ties with the mother country.
Similarly, the international community, especially that which is living in an artificially designed cocoon, has swallowed hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, at their own peril as the noble programmes are not going to be stopped. What may only stop is the opposition's desire to ship-out.
The few incidences that were recorded and blown out of proportion by the foreign media are unfortunate isolated cases which are common in any community even the most developed societies the world over, Britain, United States, Australia, France and others. Actually, the cases do not correspond with the levels of poverty, deprivation and repression that the media has in a blinkered fashion chosen to report.
When a society, and in particular the youths, have been deprived of their rights or over-exposed to poverty, they naturally react and in most cases react violently. Such cases are a common phenomena in such economically developed societies such as South Africa where the infamous service delivery and labour protests are experienced.
Needless to remind of the Marikana mine protests in South Africa where over 34 were killed and 78 people injured in August 2012 while the Zimbabwean mines are quiet. Some researchers have also claimed that violence in Britain has probably become one of the worst in Europe where youth gangs, sexual violence and sexual exploitation are also the order of the day.
By the way, this is one of the most developed economies in the world and Zimbabwe is not. Elsewhere in the United States, racism, murder and domestic violence have haunted the successive regimes regardless of how crafty, manipulative or confusing the policies are.
Even the US president Obama has also faced protests over his health policies and Harare has not.
Australia has also repeatedly witnessed conflicts over race and the victims in those conflicts have not received any security from the successive governments. Interestingly, no international media reports negatively about that and yet a single death in Zimbabwe attracts media headlines.
In most of these conflicts alluded to above, it must be noted that it is the youths who are either on the fore-front or being used by the rich and selfish politicians to engage, riot, vandalise and at the end of it all gain nothing.
Contrary to the abuse of the youths in other countries, in Zimbabwe, courtesy of their high levels of literacy, positive Government policies and the general unhu/ubuntu, they have been able at least say "NO".
This spirit of oneness and unhuism/ubuntuism that has been displayed by the Zimbabwean youths should be nurtured and watered by the rest of the society so that peace and development prevail.
The youths in general should, as always, be encouraged to take advantage of the economic empowerment and possibly occupy the leading spot before they claim leadership positions through legally instituted pressure groups under the banner of the National Youth Council. The youths could also move fast ahead of the pronouncement by the President on the formalisation of all underground mineral panning by the youths to mobilise themselves into formal groups so that as soon as the policy is in place, they are covered and already celebrating.
While our national leadership could build the foundation as the youths' launch-pad, it is up to the youths themselves to take positions before they swing up to dive and dive towards development and harmony. Never again should the outside world be allowed to condemn the local youths on account of their alleged bad behaviour.
Instead, as the nation prepares for the next general elections, the youths should be involved from a positive perspective. What is important in all this is for the youths to understand the importance of numbers and oneness; they will never be mistaken for anything other than themselves, empowered Zimbabweans.