"Zimbabwe does not belong to us." Youth and the struggle in the breadbasket

By Tariro Senderayi

When Zimbabwe secured its independence in 1980, the then Ceremonial President, Canaan Banana, said something that today as a young person makes me wish was the motto of the governing leaders of Zimbabwe. He said “Zimbabwe does not belong to us, it is loaned to us by future generations and thus we should leave it in a better place for them.”
Fast forward to the present day, is our generation in the better place that our custodians promised to provide? Are we not living in a stalemate of broken promises and dashed aspirations?
Girls and women now sell their wares in the light of day, prostitution no longer offers the cover of night. Shame is a thing of the distant past, moral composure is tossed away whilst they gear up for survival mode.
A new dimension of prostitution has arrived. Vending is seen as a means to ensure survival since the formal sector has proved impenetrable or non-functioning. However, make no mistake that whilst their wares of trade are on display, alternative wares are also often being showcased. During the day, deals and agreements are struck to facilitate the activities of the night. When night creeps in they change from their vending outfits to clothes befitting the night trade and put their best foot forward. In fact it would appear as though vending is a mere façade for the real business of the day.
Those who use public transport to get around are privy to the fact that as the day winds down the number of young women who are getting into the CBD takes a steep hike. It seems there is an attraction: a moth to a flame for young women and the CBD in the after hours.
In my research I have discovered that with the trying economic situation and the scarcity of jobs the world’s oldest trade now dictates that traders become the more aggressive in a bid to survive. Aggression comes in the form of trading their wares around the clock without any care whether it’s either day or night. So dire is the situation that prostitutes are now quick to suggest that if the client has no money then any grocery items that are equivalent to the fee will do. There have been some situations whereby ladies in the trade now demand sugar or rice. Some are so bold as to suggest that the trade takes place at the client’s home and they go ahead and rob the client of valuables.
Young men have become “pimps” operating day and night. They do not flinch when they trade their sisters to older predators in exchange for money, alcohol and fuel. For them it’s a game.
It has become so dire that some young men even encourage their girlfriends to give in to the advances of sugar daddies so that they can partake in the spoils. Gone are the days when a young man would work his knuckles to the bones so that he can provide for his lady. Instead they are cowards and are not embarrassed to ride on whatever freebies they can get their greedy hands on. This is the new generation of men in Zimbabwe who do not protect their sisters but instead sell them out.
With an alarming appetite for moral decay going around I cannot help but feel that those who have been loaned the nation of Zimbabwe for safekeeping on our behalf have surely let us down. Prostitution and crime are so rife and no one is batting an eyelid. Unfortunately,  the sentiments quoted in the opening paragraph of this article remain a distant hope because the custodians of the nation have not only dismantled what they had fought for in the struggle but have taken away hope for the future of Zimbabwe.

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