Friday, 10 January 2020


The participation of youth in Zimbabwe can be traced to the time before independence, young people playing a liberation role. After attaining independence in 1980, the post-war government made remarkable steps to institute a ministry responsible for youth and also it was led by a young woman. However, the institutional establishment did not translate to the practical empowerment of young people who now constitutes 67 percent of the total population. The growing poverty in the new millennium, lack opportunities, limited academic freedoms, unemployment, drug abuse, exorbitant health care, human rights abuse and shrinking civic space has epitomized modern-day Zimbabwe; with young people absorbing the brunt of economic collapse. The National Constitution, Section 20 which is within the Africa Union Youth Framework; provides for the effective participation of youth in political, social, economic and cultural affairs of te country. To celebrate the 2nd National People ‘s Convention hosted by the Citizens Manifesto, this paper introduces key fundamentals and solution-oriented interventions on the role of youth in the political economy of Zimbabwe. The paper uses the Youth Development Model (YDM) that spells out the four-lens approach and seven key principles of youth development. Given the contextual reality, the paper argues that practical youth development must involve youth themselves, dealing with institutional deficiencies, and human development must form part of Zimbabwe ‘s conversations. The paper also suggests that human development should be done through, the transformation of the education system to promote innovation, enacting policies that enable youth development, preserving space for collective action and organizing, locating dialogue on the future of work or the decent work and social justice agenda. 

Keywords: Youth, Inclusion, Zimbabwe, Participation, Policies, Citizen ‘s Convention, Agency 

Executive Summary 
The youth bulge phenomenon, prevalent in Zimbabwe where demographically youths constitute 67.7% of the population, has been manipulated by the political elite to perpetuate violent conflicts as youth are more susceptible to manipulation by both politicians and government. Urdal (2006) notes that conflicts occur when the proportion of youth bulge exceeds 20%. The percentage of youth bulge in Zimbabwe exceeds this threshold by over 40%: this at the backdrop of an external debt hovering at 146% of the country’s GDP, over 90% unemployment rate, poor governance and accountability practices, politicization of societal life and dwindling civic voice and trust; has furthered youth marginalization. Youths have thus become a pool for recruitment and conscription into youth militia groups by political parties for deployment to carry out atrocities that further political party agendas. The vigilant groups are known for torturing, intimidating and killing citizens with differing political ideologies. Examples include Chipangano in Mbare, Harare and the Al-Shabab styled organization in Kwekwe in the Midlands Province. Outright manipulation of youth by politicians who promise economic rewards such as employment, land, and pay-outs has seen youths perpetrating violence at alarming rates. Urdal (2006) further states that risk increases under times of political, economic and educational stress, and Zimbabwe has been under such stress for a decade. Consequently, election times in the country have been characterized by a violent contest among unemployed youth across the political divide and marred with outright violence, voter intimidation, and victimization, with youths taking the lead. The growing marginalization of young people in Zimbabwe is not only political but also structural, the political mentality that youth are the leaders of tomorrow continue to shrink the youth space. Zimbabwe ‘s youth development space is epitomized by violations of basic rights, that is lack of decent jobs, exorbitant education, limited access to health care, drug abuse, lack of civic space to innovate and participate. This paper seeks to articulate a solution-oriented approach to these challenges, through raising home ground nuggets and the paper is also raising key questions that need to be addressed to move forward as a country.

Paper published by Citizen's Manifesto written by Misheck Gondo 

For the full paper read here:

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Necrologue to F.r Ignatius M. Zvarevashe (S.J); A life of Humility and Spiritual Nourishment

By Misheck Gondo

His life is worthy of a celebration!  The time he lived on earth was capacious for every member of the church.  He was known for having ample time to satisfy the spiritual void of the faithful. Well known as Baba Zvararevashe of the Society of Jesus; a religious order of the Catholic Church, whose priests and members are called Jesuits. His given name Ignatius is not a spiritual coincident; he was ordained as a priest within the order of the religion founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Ignatius M. Zvarevashe worked as a pastoral priest for 38 years in Chinhoyi and Harare dioceses in Zimbabwe and as an Assistant Novice Director for two years in Zambia. In November 2019, he celebrated 50th anniversary as a Jesuit and 40 years as a priest.  He will also be remembered as a man of intellectual propriety and decorum, spiritual stamina and teaching- proficiency and a perfectionist. He did his theological studies at Heythrop College in London and at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome. A member of the Marian Movement; one of his zeal was to unpack the importance of Mary Mother of Jesus to Catholics and non-Catholics. In one of his books, “Mariya Amai VaJesu Naamai Vedu”, he chronicled the sanctity, the importance, the respect Mary deserves and the truth about her and why Catholic Church gives Mary such an honor.
Born in Gutu on December 15, 1943, Fr. Zvarevashe, a veteran and prolific author, a transformational teacher whose realm of influence permeated beyond the jurisdiction of the catholic church. There is an adage that says, ‘writing is not only a cup of knowledge to those with wisdom, but a legacy for generations.’ Fr. Ignatius wrote several novels, and spirituals books, some of them include:  Authentic Inculturation and Reconciliation: A Catholic Perspective, A Short Investigation of The Catholic Church: From the Council of Jerusalem to The Council of Trent, Marwadzo neMbiri YaJesu Kristu, Kurauone, Tsumo, Chimbo naMadimikira,  Tsumo, zvirevo zvechimbo, namadimikira : (mangadza avaera shiri kuramba hungwe huku vachidya), Museve wade nyama, Gonawapotera, Ngano dzinozipa dzapasichigare, Gwararenhamo, and Dzinza ravagovera vaChirumhanzu Namutasa. He has also penned a number of articles in English, published in Moto, Hekima Review,   Afer, Catholic Chuch News, and Mukai-Vukani.
His teachings were based on spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction, he has been known as man of thoughtful and constructive criticism, in one of his books: “A short Investigation of the Catholic Church” he concurred with Pope John Paul on this question, “Where have we deviated from the Gospel” as he re-opens Catholicism heated debate after the Second Vatican Council, he laid down the past faults of the church and how the church can be guided by Holy Spirit to correct the wrongs.
 His homilies called for the people to repentance, conversion, humility, and growth in a spirit of trust in God's Mercy.  Through-out his teachings, he made sure everyone, regardless of age or level of literacy could understand the word of God. His famous style of calling the congregants to repeat after his important words-for mastery, for example, “Kuzvidukupisa, Kuzvidukupisa, Kuzvidukupisa”. He was a student of unfathomable Divine Mercy, he allowed in his lifetime for the message of divine mercy to reach the ordinary people.
 The Author of this Article had a double-leveled privilege to interface with Fr. Zvarevashe in the two dioceses, Chinhoyi at St. Boniface Mission, where the deceased served as a priest and his last pastoral assignment at St Francis Xavier Parish Braeside-which sub-houses St. Martins. He always unveiled himself to parishioners for personal, family or community prayers, even the time he was in great agony, he could attend his daily obligations, on his last days suffering from cancer, a resemblance of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
 His deep understanding and great command of the Shona language was amazing! He loved traditional food too. A week before his sad departure from mother-earth, at St. Martins Parish, the famous Hosi Yedenga (Maria Guild) had prepared his loved dish, a hamper full of copious-cuisines.  In the consummation of time, only to receive the sad news that the spiritual legend has left the troubled world,  going to where the Christians describe as the real or final home.  His life is a life of legacy, his knowledge of scripture shall be remembered,  he left us with a positive challenge, a call to perfect our ways through humility (Kuzvidukupisa), love (Rudo), Confession (Rupinduko) and intricate love of God (Kuda Mwari zvakanyanya). As Fr. Ignatius Padya said through his obituary assertion,  "You are now a saint of God in heaven"
May Your Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.
(John 16:22: "Therefore you too have grief now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you…”)

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Eulogy to our Community Heroine; Amai Mugoro.

“Sad news, we have a big loss, Mai Mugoro no longer with us. May her soul rest in eternal peace” Those were the words just posted on one of the followed social network service sites, the Face Book.  When Munya Mazere posted this unexpected and perturbing message, the author of this encomium was far away in the west of Africa, at the backdrop of Nigeria Presidential Elections. A vast pentagon of pain gripped him, a feeling of pensive sadness with realization that distance cannot be a measure of pain, but can further embed the pain. Few minutes later, WhatsApp messages started to trickle in, a sad confirmation of the reality and a taste of melancholia.
Amai Mugoro as affectionately and she was popularly known in Mashonaland West Province, left a big void not only to the place of origin; Zvipani, but to the entire populace that had the opportunity within her vicinity of life; having interacted with her. Soft spoken, prayerful and motivator can not only describe her life virtues and rectitude, but also epitomized with love and mother-ship.
 As a piously-devout Catholic, a prolific Choir Conductor and a singer, with an art of directing musical performances. I remember during our childhood, she was a primary school teacher at Matau, she could lead in church Service and Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church among other dedicated missions of pilgrimage, with a melodious voice that rains the congregants to a prayerful and introspective church sessions. Her life was sanctimonious.
 Mai Mugoro did not wait until death in order to pass on the legacy-baton of leadership, as evidenced by her children’s participation in the body of Christ and community work, a lesson every individual must embrace. Legacy is not imposed but it is created.  
The connection with Mugoro family is not only relational and propinquity, but also spiritual. During my childhood at St Boniface Catholic Mission, it is the Mugoro family that carried the spiritual thesis to be my God parents upon my holy baptism, a commitment in the Catholic Church that comes with responsibility to always pray, guide and mentor the newly born in Christ.
Indeed, it is a desolate moment that has engulfed our land, with this level of pain, what of the children and Mr. Jacob Mugoro the husband. However, we can only throw ourselves in the comfort of the Lord, by reflecting on the scripture: “but our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
May the Lord, our God the redeemer of human race comforts the Mugoro family, church members, friends and the entire community for this woebegone loss.
 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
May her soul rest in eternal peace!
Eulogy by
Misheck Gondo 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Broken Relationships between the People and the State: A Call for Social Contract

The concept of Social Contract back dates to centuries ago and it has shaped from the State of Nature to the present day realities in which the State and its Institutions, the Citizens and their Institutions can agree on the best methodologies that address the interest and needs of the people. Zimbabwe is one country that has for the past decades experienced the broken relationships. The state and the citizens have not been agreeing on several issues.
To further interrogate the relationship between the people and government, a brief outlay of Social Contract has to be noted. This can be a voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to various theories, such as Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau; organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.
According to social contract theorists, when the government fails to secure people’s  natural rights as alluded by Locke or satisfy the best interests of society they serve, cited by   Rousseau as the “general will”, citizens can withdraw their obligation to obey the state, or change the leadership through elections or any other means.
Interesting analysis given by the theorists can trigger a candid debate, the events in Zimbabwe which happened since year 2000 to November 2017 were as a result of broken relationships, were the government treats its citizens as second class, were there is no accountability and were  instilling fear has been used to rule the citizens. As noted by Locke citizens withdrew their obligation to obey, because the government failed to meet expected needs.
It is important to note the various issues that are caused by the broken relationships between the government of Zimbabwe and its citizen, these include: Individualistic Behavior, Human Rights Abuses, Torture, Violence, widening gap between the rich and the poor (lack of pro-poor policies) and Partisan Development Model. In practical terms, the Government of Zimbabwe introduced the reign of terror since independence through unleashing Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, Farm invasions, Abductions, Torture of citizens, Militarization of State Institutions, Electoral Violence and Intimidation. The mentioned historical perspective is on its own a clear testimony on how dictatorial regimes can forget the very cause of building a united state that offers a fair protection of its citizens, through strong institutions, were people are free to shape their value system.        
To slide back to the origins of building a united nation,  Sophia Omni (2005) noted how people when faced with challenges in a state,  how they tried to overcome the hardships; they entered into two agreements which are termed Pactum Unionis and Pactum Subjectionis.
The first pact (Pactum Unionis) people sought protection of their lives and property. As a result, a society was formed where people undertook to respect each other and live in peace and harmony. The second pact of Subjectionis, people united together and pledged to obey an authority and surrendered the whole or part of their freedom and rights to an authority.  The authority guaranteed everyone protection of life, property and to a certain extent liberty. Thus, they must agree to establish society by collectively and reciprocally renouncing the rights they had against one another in the State of Nature and they must imbue one person or assembly of persons with the authority and power to enforce the initial contract. The people agreed to live under common law and create an enforcement mechanism for the social contract and the laws that constitute it. Thus, the authority or the government or the sovereign or the state came into being because of the two agreements- but most importantly the state has to guarantee the rights of the people as the makers of the state.
 In Zimbabwe the Pactum Unionis and Subjectionis do not exist – there is no protection of lives and property; there is negative peace and violence – in which the state and its institutions are at the     epi-centre of perpetrating violence. The new dispensation in 100 days has neither tried to address the human rights aspect nor engage the citizens on key policy issues that affect them, the focus is more on business; the message is that the country is open for business without a solid framework that value the people that the government purport to represent.
 The laws that have been a hindrance to people’s freedom are still in existence such as AIPPA, POSA among other. The Media is still biased towards the Ruling Party and rural community is still polarized. Although some scholars may argue the need to give the New Dispensation President Mnangagwa (E.D) a chance and notably his positive achievements in international relations, call for zero-tolerance on corruption, there are cosmetic changes in political, economic, social and cultural development of Zimbabwe.    The Social Contract requires good leaders to consult key sectors such as: labor, CSOs, Church and Communities before implementation of national policies.
 Institutions play a critical role in building solid relations and deliver people’s rights, if not built on proper foundations they can be manipulated by political leadership to abuse the same people they seek to protect. Most worrying is that, vulnerable groups such as youth, women, people with disabilities and indigenous communities suffer because of these continuous hardships.
 It is also important to note that social cohesion has to be appreciated from different levels that is:  Individuals versus Family, Family versus Community, Institutions Versus Citizens, State Versus the People and finally State versus International Community. When there is no unity of purpose between an individual and the family this might also trigger disunity between the family and the community, up until it reaches the state and international community. A practical example is our beloved Zimbabwe in which at family level there has been differences and conflicts caused by political, social and ideological differences, the state being the main actor- failing to provide necessary support (what can be termed basic needs and guarantee of rights) and the international community intervened through sanctions and isolation. The difficulties have been caused by broken relationships between the state and the people.
 What then can be a holistic solution to mend the broken relationships? There is vast need and louder calls for Social Contract, were people are stockholders and leaders in national development, were policy making includes the citizens and the state provides for such space in honor and dignity. The value system set by people should guide how institutions work, not vise versa. The values must be the ones agreed upon on a framework of the national Constitution. The Pre-amble of the national Constitution tries to set the value system, but it’s all on paper: political will to execute the dictates of the national Constitution and pushing the inclusive national agenda is still lacking and far from reality.
 There are challenges that come when institutions define the pace and the value system for the people, there is risk of political manipulation as witnessed for the past 37 years in Zimbabwe. As noted, since year 2000 the systems and institutions that have to protect the values of the people were captured, the traditional structures for example, some Village Heads and Chiefs were and are still architectures of political violence and discrimination in communities, while the Courts and Independent Commissions have not been delivering their constitutional mandate due to excessive political interference.
 Zimbabwe must agree on a solid value system, the Zimbabwe that people want.  Questions such as what it means to be a Zimbabwean must be holistically answered and categorically defined. These common values must know-no language, tribe, race, culture or religion, but respect diversity towards a common destiny that is based on the respect of the rule of law, peaceful co-existence and effective development; were labor, youth, women, vulnerable groups, students, business, church, CSOs, political parties and international players, all contribute to the common cause – the Dream that Zimbabwe has laid based on Social Contract.

Misheck Gondo is an International Relations Expert

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