17 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Revive the Economy and Save Youths From Limpopo Crocodiles - EU Urges Harare

Zimbabwe needs to revive its long struggling economy to save the lives of thousands of youths risking their lives daily crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River to escape to neighbouring South Africa.

This was said by the European Union (EU) head of delegation in Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, who challenged the Harare administration to come up with policies that create employment for the country's young.

The envoy was addressing diplomats commemorating EU Day in Harare last Friday.

Thousands of young locals are daily crossing the Limpopo to escape the economic problems back home with at least a million Zimbabweans now said to have made the flight to South Africa over the last decade.

An economic crisis blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies has seen industries collapse, leaving unemployment at more than 90 percent, according to estimates from non-State organisations.

Ambassador Van Damme said the Zimbabwean government has a responsibility of creating jobs for the country's youth.

"Honourable 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 of 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.

He said the government should listen to citizens especially the youths when they express their discontent with some policies.

Harare has brutally crushed recent demonstrations, with truncheon-wielding riot police and water cannon unleashed against on citizens protesting for reforms.

"Let's avoid complacency and let's remain humble," said the EU envoy.

"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," he said.

President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party deny responsibility for Zimbabwe's economic collapse.

The now 93-year-old leader, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980, blames sanctions imposed by the EU and other western countries for Zimbabwe's problems.

The EU has since lifted most its sanctions, leaving in place a travel ban against Mugabe and his wife Grace.


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