MUTARE– Zimbabwean youths are disproportionately affected by an unsustainable public debt dating back to the immediate post independence period.
A research by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) sheds light on this disproportionate effect of this legacy burden, which is affecting their present-day lives and diminishing their future prospects.
In it’s key findings the research, The social and economic implications of public debt on youth in Zimbabwe, shows that over eighty-seven per cent of male youths reported running informal businesses, while for females it’s 95 per cent.
It also shows that over seven in ten (75 per cent) youths reported that their household had gone without food in the 12 months preceding the 2020 study.
Other key statistics of the impact of this vicious and cyclical debt trap shows that youths are failing to access clean water at the house (71 per cent), failing to access medication when in need (70 per cent) and 70 percent are failing to pay bills.
“Zimbabwe has a youthful demographic bulge, though from a socio-economic perspective – the potential of the demographic dividend being realized is muzzled by the growing public debt, which according to IMF and GoZ is USD 18 Billion: 86% of the GDP.
“The negative state of the economy and diminishing prospects for a brighter future – inter-generational injustice, will persist lest Public Debt is extensively reduced and be governed by mechanisms which minimize borrowing.
“There is no lack of debate on how public debt affects economic growth. More often than not youths are disengaged, disenfranchised and abdicate their role in this fundamental process of leveraging debt for development,” reads part of the report.
Zimbabwe’s debt burden is unsustainable and violates a regional pact the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment which compels member states to avoid increasing their public debt-to-GDP ratios beyond 60%, reports ZIMCODD.
ZIMCODD says youth engagement on Public Debt should be ‘deliberate and extensive’ to fully comply with the provisions of the country’s supreme law.
The state is abdicating it’s role by failing to engage youths on debt assumption despite the inter generational impact, while focusing on recurrent expenditure without capital investments to create employment.
“Socio-Economic development could be transformative for Zimbabwe- only if it is hinged on progressive resource mobilization beyond a dependence on public debt and committed effort to thwart corruption.
“Moreso, the principle of generational equity should mandate that they should be extensively engaged during the contracting of Public Debt- given that the public debt trap has consequences for them in the future,” says ZIMCODD.
“If the government is seriously committed to lasting socio-economic justice, it will engage the youths on the implication of the country’s public finance system, which informs our governance.”