Zimbabwe has been on a political rollercoaster in the past weeks, which saw the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president, after an unprecedented military intervention.
Zimbabwe’s youth have struggled economically over the past few decades, with high unemployment. Many have also felt the pressure of strict laws regarding media and arts.
When the military cornered the 93 year old former Zimbabwean leader, they flocked to the streets, hoping for a better future.
Some of the youth, who spoke with VOA, said they hope President Emmerson Mnangagwa will improve the social, economic and political situation in the country.
Bornface Charumbira , one of the young Zimbabweans, said, “I feel that what happened was necessary, I’m hoping that in the future or days to come that things change or get better. A lot of people had fear when it came to graduating and not knowing if they would have a job after they graduate.”
He is among millions of Zimbabwean youth hoping for change.
Plot Mhako is the founder of Jibilika, a youth-run non-government organization. It works with young Zimbabweans to use art and popular culture for expression and engagement.
“We feel that the political change has opened a window of hope. It has rekindled the enthusiasm that was starting to die down amongst the people of Zimbabwe.”
Yet others have reservations, in part because Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party remains in control, and the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was Mugabe’s long-time deputy.
Elvis Mugari, founder and president of the Combined Restitution for Zimbabwean Youth, a non-profit organization that pushes for youth participation in decision-making positions in society, said, “Given the new political status quo, there is hope for the young people, but according to me it’s not uhuru yet. What we are fighting for is not individuals but the system. We still have the system in place which is ZANU-PF.”
Mhako says he has hopes for Mnangagwa’s administration. “My hope is that the dispensation will let young people freely do what they want. Would be able to dream in a country where their rights are respected, thoughts and aspirations are supported, promoted and allowed to thrive. Where they can occupy spaces of political influence, economic balance, being able to access jobs and livelihood.”
Mhako is optimistic and says the political developments over the past weeks are a step in the right direction.
Mugari says electoral reforms and media freedom are priorities Mnangagwa will need to address if he is truly going a different direction from his predecessor. But Mugari has doubts those reforms will come anytime soon.