Recasting the youth, indigenisation & empowerment agenda

Inconvinient Youth with Umtanake Taura (iyut)
\nHonourable Patrick Zhuwao’s appointment as Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment means he will no longer provide his regular column in The Sunday Mail. This is because as a member of Cabinet, he is bound by collective decisions and cannot air his personal opinions on policy matters in the space we provide.

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The Sunday Mail, thus, this week introduces this new column, which will focus on pertinent — but uncomfortable — youth issues. “Inconvenient Youth” represents a compendium of views gathered from young people by our columnist, Umtanake Taura. — EDITOR
\nInconvenient Youth with Umtanake Taura (IYUT) mourns the passing on of Dr Sikhanyiso Duke Ndlovu.

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For young people, Dr Ndlovu was instrumental in providing everlasting empowerment through the education that was offered at the various institutions that he was involved with.

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He was truly a hero, blessed with the gift of empowering his fellow compatriots. IYUT says hamba kahle Cde Duke.
\nSeeing as I have been asked to take up space once occupied by Cde Patrick Zhuwao — the new Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister — IYUT feels it is only proper to start by interrogating the man and his ability to head this portfolio.

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Cde Zhuwao appears to be saying that Government needs to speak with one voice, as far as IYUT understands his public pronouncements in his first week in office.

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He argues that there is a person assigned to lead a particular department or programme by the Head of State and that voice should be the one to come out loud regarding its programming.

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In other words, he is cautioning that we may end up getting prescriptions from everywhere and never heal in the process.
\nThe minister elaborated a number of issues in the past week and IYUT must say, the man has the energy because in a week’s time he has been able to meet various constituencies within his line of operation.

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IYUT will explore the highlights of his pronouncements in various fora, also making our analytical view of his approach.
\nZhuwao’s stance on the Zimbabwe Youth Council appears to advocate for decentralisation so as to ensure that programmes are cascaded to the grassroots.

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This will see officials in his ministry working more closely with Zimbabwe Youth Council structures at provincial, district and ward levels to ensure easy reach of programming to intended beneficiaries.

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On this one, indeed people will be watching, particularly those in some provinces who have concerns that everything only happens in Harare.
\nCde Zhuwao also emphasised on entrepreneurship as a key factor of production given that entrepreneurs generate ideas and they assume the risk involved with transforming economic resources into consumer products and services.

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He called upon young people to become actively involved in various economic sectors. Is Cde Zhuwao recasting the ZYC as the mobilisation unit of youth?

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Zhuwao states that he intends to make the ministry a key component for fulfilling provisions of Zanu-PF’s manifesto, particularly on job creation.

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He spoke of the revival of the Youth Development Fund in view of growing it so that it can be accessed by more young people, proposing that youth enterprises be established with the ZYC as the co-ordinating and facilitating hub.
\nCde Zhuwao is also calling on captains of industry to play a role in mentoring youth-run businesses.

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IYUT wonders how those who benefited from the Youth Development Fund will be encouraged or compelled to pay back the outstanding loans.
\nZimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme seeks to facilitate the entry of indigenous people into the mainstream economy.

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There are two main strategies to be used to this end.
\nFirstly, the policy requires that at least 51 percent of shareholding in every public company and any other business be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans.

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Second, the Act compels all Government departments, statutory bodies and local authorities and all companies to procure at least 50 percent of their goods and services, in terms of the Procurement Act (Chapter 22:15), from businesses in which a controlling interest is held by indigenous Zimbabweans.

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The aspect of procurement has often been silent. However, it is a low-hanging fruit which indigenous Zimbabweans can tap into. IYUT is waiting to see progress on this one.

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The Indigenisation Act provides for establishment of the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.
\nThe fund’s main purpose is to provide financial assistance to indigenous Zimbabweans to finance share acquisition, warehousing of shares, capacity building programmes for indigenous Zimbabweans, and any other purpose the minister considers will promote economic empowerment.

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Cde Zhuwao is suggesting that mechanisms be put in place to ensure more locals invest in qualifying businesses. He argues that in as much as we would like to create the ease of doing business for foreigners, let the same apply to our people.
\nIn other words, let us also improve the ease of doing business for our very own Zimbabweans too.

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The basis of the argument is the net asset value of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora which translates into billions of dollars.
\nThe minister has recommended that Zimbabwe work on creating an enabling environment to harness investment from Zimbabweans working abroad and to enhance their participation in economic growth.

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Diaspora contributions to development are key. IYUT hopes that discussions around the Diaspora National Policy continue.
\nThe Minister held a meeting with empowerment groups who called for a conference to formulate an Economic Empowerment Strategy.

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The conference should bring all minds and thinkers in economic empowerment and youth development so that they can proffer practical solutions to enhance participation of a greater majority of Zimbabweans in the mainstream economy.

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IYUT hopes dates for such a conference will have been announced by the next instalment of this column. IYUT expects to see an implementation plan and follow-up on the views raised at the conference.

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That implementation plan should address all pertinent implementation issues: Who will do what? When? How? What measurable results will be achieved?

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Who will benefit?
\nHow many Zimbabweans will benefit?
\nWho will monitor implementation?

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IYUT is expecting some Usain Bolt speed on youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes.
\nCde Zhuwao must be reminded of the slogan Zanu-PF went to elections with: Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment.