By Tariro Senderayi
The national budget is one of the fundamental economic policies in any country. It comes a close second to the Constitution as a vital tool for national governance. Actually the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the African Charter enables young people to demand what they need for any national budget. Like in any country , a national budget is the direct mirror and reflection of the Government’s priorities in terms of how funds shall be allocated for national development.
When it comes to expectations of the youth were the budget is concerned, the budget should be pro jobs. It should be seen creating decent job opportunities so that people are seen trading their labour. However, did you know that the budget for 2016 does not focus on social development? In the measly 2,7% allocation towards social development it is unclear and vague as to how many jobs will be created. Remember that national growth has to be job reaching and job intensive, people should be able to trade their labour. In any economy jobs are the crucial link between growth and development labour.
There are a number of issues that young people anticipate to be addressed by the national budget so as to enhance their development. These issues include quality and affordable education, quality and affordable health facilities, quality information and technology facilities, youth empowerment and participation of these young men and women in decision making, absence of hunger and poverty, accessibility of national resources and environmental sustainability.
Hence, all the time a budget is announced youth wait with much abated breath hoping that the document will tackle the many challenges they are facing today. Taking into account that youth constitute over 60% of the population and 90% of them are unemployed, the budget seems to fail on the front of channeling funds towards youth development programmes. As if that is not enough, over the past years the Zimbabwe national budget has failed to effectively and efficiently integrate young people’s issues in policies and strategies at all levels within the various sectors of the economy.
Remember a national budget reflects where the Government’s commitment and priorities lay and when a budget blatantly ignores that the youth exist, it says a lot about that Government. Could it be a case of misplaced priorities or the youth being sidelined in favor of “more pressing national issues”? That is indeed a question that begs an answer.
One recommendation that should be strongly considered is the fact that, since the formal job market is shrinking by the day, why not formalize the informal sector. It has become increasingly difficult to penetrate the formal sector hence young people now trade informally in a bid to survive. May the Government allow young people to trade informally without fear of council authorities destroying and stealing their wares. They should be able to trade without having to look over their shoulders constantly.
Support of the youth whether financial or non-financial should be guaranteed by the budget. This support is garnered towards enhancing youth skills training, effective administration of the National Youth Council and of course entrepreneurship. Maybe Zimbabwe can learn this from other Governments that you need to follow through with the political promises you make when campaigning because this raises the hopes of young people only upon the conclusion of such campaigns are these hopes crashed. And we too as young people should learn not to be used as puppets of violence perpetration during campaign periods so that our elders take us more seriously and accept that we have more depth than they know.