Shrinking political space, lack of opportunities forcing youth exodus – study reveals

By Staff Reporter

SHRINKING civic space, lack of jobs and opportunities have emerged as top push factors contributing to youth migration out of Zimbabwe, a report has revealed.

In a study conducted by the Southern African Youth Solidarity Network (SAYSN), Zimbabwe’s young people, according to the report, have cited safety concerns, economically and politically as major contributors to their exodus.

“The shrinking of civic space has been a growing concern in many parts of the world, and Zimbabwe is no exception,” read the report.

“In recent years, the repression of civic activism and political participation has forced many young Zimbabweans to migrate in search of safety and opportunities.”

The report made reference to Tawanda Muchehiwa, a Zimbabwean student activist who was abducted and tortured by state security agents in July 2020, ahead of planned anti-government protests.

Muchehiwa was accused of inciting violence and subverting a constitutionally elected government.

He was eventually released on bail, but he was forced to flee the country and seek asylum in South Africa.

In a similar case, the report cited Makomborero Haruzivishe, a Zimbabwean youth activist who was arrested in 2020 and sentenced to 14 months in prison for participating in a peaceful protest.

Haruzivishe was accused of inciting violence and insulting President Mnangagwa.

He was released on bail in April 2021, and sought asylum in Norway.

According to the SAYSN study, Peter Magombeyi who was a doctor and leader of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) also fled the country after victimization.

In 2019, according to the report, Magombeyi was abducted and tortured by unknown assailants after leading a series of strikes demanding better working conditions and higher salaries for doctors.

After his release, he fled to South Africa for safety.

According to the SAYSN report, Evan Mawarire, a Pastor and activist who gained international attention for his #ThisFlag social media campaign in 2016 as an example of someone who was forced to flee due to shrinking civic space in Zimbabwe.

Mawarire was arrested and charged with inciting violence and attempting to overthrow the government, forcing him to flee the country and seek asylum in the United States.

“These examples illustrate the widespread nature of political repression and civic space limitations in Zimbabwe and the impact that it has had on the lives of young people who dare to speak out and advocate for change,” read the report.

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