EMPOWERMENT OR MANIPULATION: CHANGES AND CONTINUITIES AS TURNING POINTS OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES TOWARDS YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN POST-COLONIAL ZIMBABWE, A CASE OF MHONDORO NGEZI DISTRICT, c.1990-c.1990
Honest E. Koke is a PhD student in African Studies under the International Studies Group (ISG) at the University of the Free State. He attained his BA and MA in Economic History and African Economic History from the University of Zimbabwe in 2014 and 2017 respectively. He has sharp research interests in youth empowerment policies, community development, small projects for poverty alleviation and fiscal history. His BA (Hons) research project focused on the development of Beekeeping Industry in Colonial Zimbabwe. During his MA studies, his research focused on youth empowerment and development policies. His current PhD research project is focusing on Taxation, Public Finance Management and State Financing in Southern Rhodesia from 1923 to 1953.
This paper investigates the course of policy trajectories (changes and continuities) in rural youth empowerment and development focusing on the Mhondoro-Ngezi District in Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe. Based on interviews, archival sources, Mhondoro-Ngezi Rural District Council (MNRDC) documents, the paper establishes that youth policies, for a long time in Zimbabwean history and economic development, have always changing to suit the political demands of the time. During the colonial period youth development and empowerment policies were formulated under the notion of ‘community development’ but in reality aimed to pacify youths’ participation in national politics. Youths were given economic opportunities through joining Farming Clubs and other vocational training institutions. At independence, the new government employed a similar approach on youth development programmes but changed its scope and turned the Clubs and Vocational training centres into militia bases. Through analysing the state and local authorities’ ideas on youth empowerment, the major argument established in this paper is that youth development in Zimbabwe in general and Mhondoro-Ngezi in particular was anchored on the need by the colonial and independent governments to shut the political doors for youths and, especially during the post-colonial period, manipulate them for political interests.
Keywords: Community, Politics, Development, Youth, Empowerment, Policy, Poverty