16 May 2017

Zimbabwe: EU Urges Government to Respect Young People's 'Dissident' Opinions, Create Employment

Photo: VOA
Zimbabwean riot police clash with protestors during a demonstration against the introduction of bond notes (file photo).

The  European Union (EU) head of delegation in Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, says Harare should respect young Zimbabwe's aspirations and views even if they express "dissident opinions" while at the same time creating employment opportunities for them.

This, he said, would save the lives of young Zimbabweans who routinely brave "crocodiles" crossing the Limpopo River into South Africa in search of jobs.

"... . Let's avoid complacency and let's remain humble. Let's listen to citizens and respect their aspirations even when they express dissident and sometimes provocative opinions-that is why they are the youths," said Van Damme.

Addressing diplomats gathered to commemorate the EU day last Friday, Van Damme said the Zimbabwean government has a responsibility to create jobs for the youths.

"Honorable minister (referring to Foreign Affairs deputy minister Edgar Mbwembwe who was standing by his side) I sincerely hope that we will be able to work together in the next months to see how we can give a place to the youths and our societies a prosperous, dignified democratic place, so that they will no longer feel the dangers of criminal human trafficking organisations the merciless Mediterranean sea or the crocodiles of the Limpopo to search for a better future," he said.

Thousands of young Zimbabweans illegally cross into South Africa in search of jobs as the economy continues to deteriorate.

In the process, some of them are devoured by crocodiles.

The lucky ones who would have managed to cross sometimes find themselves in the brutal hands of South Africans who occasionally attack foreigners there.

The EU envoy's comments come as the Zimbabwean government is known to routinely unleash riot police on citizens who demonstrate against their actions and policies.

Hundreds of youths who express their contempt for the leadership have been dragged to the courts on allegations of "insulting" President Robert Mugabe or inciting people to commit violence.

Despite promising to create 2, 2 million jobs during the campaign towards the 2013 elections, citizens feel government has done little to reduce employment which remains above 85 percent.

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