Speaking during the official opening of the 25th Session of the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday President Mugabe said provision of venture capital to youths was being prioritised under the measures being implemented by Government.
The event also coincided with the commemoration of the Day of the African Child.
Already, Government has laid the ground for the establishment of a fully-fledged micro-financial institution targeted at youth empowerment after releasing US$2,5 million for the capitalisation Empower Bank.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is soon expected to license the institution, which will focus on funding business ventures run by young entrepreneurs.
Through similar empowerment facilities, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Ministry has identified about 40 000 young entrepreneurs, who have created over 90 000 jobs.
Young people, said President Mugabe, are being gradually integrated into complementing Government’s implementation of ZimAsset through four anchor companies established for the purpose.
The four companies will have their functions directly linked to individual clusters of the economic blueprint.
Said President Mugabe: “Guided by Section 20 of our Constitution, Gov0ernment has taken measures, to ensure that young people between the ages of 15 and 35 years are afforded opportunities for employment and other avenues to economic empowerment.
“We have thus adopted a national youth policy that seeks to empower the youth through creating an environment which enables them to reach their full potential, economically, politically and socially.
“In order to mitigate the challenges that our youths face in accessing venture capital and other forms of finance to upscale their business, Government has now approved the opening of a micro-finance institution, through the issuance of an operating license for Twinstock Capital, as a step towards the establishment of a fully fledged Empower-Bank.
“The micro-finance bank is set to build and upscale the operations of young entrepreneurs.
“The Indiginisation and Economic Empowerment Ministry has also identified 39 385 young entrepreneurs, who have created 93 692 jobs, under the Zimbabwe Champions and heroes of the Economic Empowerment Revolution (ZIMCHEER).
“Government realizes the need to empower young people now, so as to upscale their skills and business, thus bringing them into the mainstream economy.
“Government also continues to explore avenues of integrating the youths in the mainstream economy through the inclusion of the youth in the four clusters of ZimAsset.
“This will be achieved through anchor companies namely, Youth Feed Zimbabwe (Food Security and Nutrition Cluster); Youth Shape Zimbabwe (Utilities and Infrastructure Cluster); Youth Employ Zimbabwe (Poverty Eradication and Social Services Cluster); and Youth Make Zimbabwe (Beneficiation and value Addition Cluster).”
The President warned youths against taking for granted the rights bestowed on them after Independence, saying the freedom was borne out of a hard fought war of liberation.
He reiterated that the Day of the African Child was derived from the incident in South Africa where school children were killed for demonstrating against apartheid system that wanted to make Afrikaans compulsory in schools.
“I visited where they are buried and when you get there you really feel that apartheid was devilish and you feel also that those who did it cannot be forgiven, but they were forgiven and we still have the Afrikaners in South Africa recognised as a people,” said the President.
“It was their government which did it.
“They didn’t want to learn Afrikaans but the nationalist Government of the Afrikaners was forcing everyone to learn Afrikaans.
“So, as a result, hundreds of youths lost their lives at their hands; the hands of apartheid oppressors.
“But as we reflect on that, I would like you not to take your rights and freedoms for granted.
Added the President; “Other hundreds of thousands of young people were among the many that died during our liberation struggle.
“Those who died in the camps were not necessarily all fighters; they were, some of them refugees that had crossed over some with their parents some having left school; being too young for training so they were in these camps.
“But the Rhodesians were merciless and they were bombing these places with napalm bombs.
“However, we have said bygones are bygones but we shall never forget these acts of brutality that were committed on us and our children.
“We shall remember.
“So, we do not take our freedom for granted; we do not take our freedom for granted and we continue to respect naturally those of our cadres who are still alive for the fight that they put up.
President Mugabe urged school children to take their education seriously.
The event was attended by Vice Presidents Mnangagwa and Mphoko, cabinet ministers senior government officials, legislators, members of the diplomatic community and school children.