Wednesday, August 15, 2012
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has warned that frustration among unemployed youths could spark violent protests as the country’s economy struggles shake off the worst effects of a decade-long recession.
"Youth unemployment and under-employment present one of the biggest challenges facing the nation, which if not addressed, is a potential threat to national peace and stability," Mugabe told about 5,000 people gathered for Monday’s Heroes’ Days commemorations in Harare.
The country's unemployment rate stands at 90 percent as local industry battles to recover from a decade-long economic crisis with most companies still operating well below capacity.
Mugabe and his Zanu PF party blame the problems on sanctions imposed by the West but critics say equally responsible is his inept management of the economy.
The veteran leader said the coalition government was implementing various measures to help address the problem of youth unemployment.
“The Government has established the Youth Development Fund (YDF) to help give credit and loans to young people to start up and grow their businesses,” he said.
“A number of businesses and banks have (also) partnered the Fund and committed their funds to support businesses spearheaded by the youths.
“Their involvement in this initiative is applauded and other businesses and banks are encouraged to participate in the initiative.”
The economy recorded steady growth since the formation of the coalition government in 2009 but has started retreating with Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently revised downwards growth forecasts for this year.
Biti also cut back by 10 percent his 2012 national budget, blaming underperforming diamond revenues and warned that the government faced a real risk of failing to pay wages for its workers.
“Our economy continues to experience challenges arising from the illegal sanctions imposed by Britain, The United States of America and the European Union and other Western nations,” Mugabe said.
“Our steady economic recovery efforts have been severely retarded, particularly by the calculated refusal for Zimbabwe to access critical concessionary financing facilities such as lines of credit, which are crucial for the rehabilitation of our industry and infrastructure.
“We continue to call for the unconditional lifting of these illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.”