Even during times of calamity, the youth in Zimbabwe continue to be marginalised and segregated against. The COVID-19 pandemic had the effect of crippling struggling youth-owned businesses and attempts to eke out a livelihood. Being the largest demographic group in the country, it is natural that the major effects of COVID-19 restrictions would be felt amongst this group. However, the youth were not explicitly considered for bailout provisions under the healthy COVID-19 Stimulus Package. The effect of this is simple. If the largest demographic group struggles to get back on its feet economically, then the whole nation struggles too.
COVID-19 has pushed global economies into an unprecedented recession. In the face of the pandemic, countries resorted to issuing massive stimulus packages as a form of bailouts for individuals, businesses and economic sectors. For example, France announced a 334 billion Euro package whilst Germany and England announced 13.38 and 37 billion Euro stimulus packages respectively. Zimbabwe also announced a ZWL18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package aimed at providing relief to individuals whose businesses had been affected by the pandemic.
What is crucial to note is that the most vulnerable group being the youth have been summarily neglected in accessing the ZWL18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package bailout package. It must be acknowledged that the government availed a ZWL17 million Youth Relief Fund. However, one must note that the ZWL17 million Youth Relief Fund did little to satisfy the needs of the youth. This is because the funds were to be divided among the 10 provinces which comprise of 59 districts and 1200 wards. The ZWL 17 million package was meant to be divided amongst 1200 wards with each ward getting just about ZWL 14 167. The reason for dividing the ZWL 17 million package by the number of wards is because there is no data on the number of youths in each ward except that youth constitute over 67.7% of the entire population. With the meagre amount of ZWL17 million under the Youth Relief Fund, it was imperative that the youth had to be included in the wider ZWL18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package bailout package to aid the recuperation of youth-owned businesses and savings.
The World Bank notes that youths across the nation have been forced into the informal sector as a survival strategy. The lockdown coupled with the 6 pm curfew greatly affected the informal sector as businesses had to close around 3 pm for everyone to be out of town by 6 pm. Taking this into consideration, the youth-dominated informal economy is the most affected sector and the government should not neglect it as it contributes positively to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
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Source: Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development