By Marshall Bwanya
Zimbabwean youths have said they are disappointed by the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was presented by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for failing to highlight how the government was going to remedy the current economic woes being faced in the country.
Zimbabwe is facing a lot of challenges economically owing to the loss in value of the local currency which has resulted in prices of goods and services increasing on a daily basis against stagnant salaries.
Besides the currency issue, Zimbabwe also has high levels of unemployment and underemployment, a development which has seen a lot of people living below the poverty datum line.
The youths are the most affected and this has forced some of them into the streets to do various activities such as illegal vending, selling smuggled goods and drugs, selling airtime by street corners as well as changing money.
The SONA was therefore seen as the opportunity for President Mnangagwa to reassure the nation especially the young people on how his government was working to address the challenges.
However, in an interview, MDC Youth Assembly spokesperson Steven Tshuma said the SONA was divorced to youth expectations as well as to the current challenges in the economy.
” It is quite regrettable that Mr Mnangagwa’s speech which was supposedly and ideally expected to touch on issues affecting the nation was glaringly devoid of any mention let alone remedy on issues like lack of electricity, water, fuel, non-availability of cash, poor wages, human rights abuses,
terror, abductions, illegitimacy and reforms.
“We are very much determined as impoverished youths of this once great nation to walk out of poverty, hopelessness and misery and our only path to do so is by confronting this military regime,” he said.
According to Richard Mahomva a researcher, SONA did not present anything new rather it expressed the ruling party’s sincerity to address promises made in the campaign manifesto.
“The current economic challenges are structural challenges which are not new in Zimbabwe we should depose the crisis narrative and find solutions together,” he said.
Other youths said they expected the President to give solutions to the water shortages being experienced in the country as well as price hikes among many other issues.
“The current cash, water, fuel shortages and price hikes have made it difficult for us to operate,” said a youth who requested to be identified as Paida. “We are being forced to draw water from unsanctioned sources, and sometimes we operate without a proper bath making us unfavourable to potential clients.
“The President’s SONA failed to give a clear road map on how the government is going to rectify these challenges that we are facing as youths,” she said.
A commuter omnibus driver who spoke on condition of anonymity said the government was taking youths for granted by not addressing the challenges they are facing.
“The President’s speech did not clarify how the government will remedy the challenges we face as youths. Some youths finished school but are still unemployed, and to make matters worse the 2% tax is piling more misery to us.
“Fuel shortages have made it difficult for us to operate profitably as the price of fuel is now higher than the money we cash in.
“This commuter vehicle spare parts require US dollars and there are no avenues favourable for us to access foreign currency,” he said.