MDC youths commemorate Soweto uprising

HARARE - Hundreds of MDC youths yesterday marched across Harare and later gathered in the Harare Gardens to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

Held under the theme “Demanding Accessible, Affordable, Quality Education, Jobs and Equal opportunities for all,” the commemorations are a throw back to 1976, when thousands of black school children took to the streets of Soweto, in South Africa.

In a march more than half a kilometre long, they protested the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language.

Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down by security forces. In the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured.

To honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union).

At the commemorations yesterday,  Harare province youth assembly executive member, Denford Ngadziore, was arrested. Charges against Ngadziore were still unclear at the time of going to Press; but MDC youths said they were unfazed by the “blatant attempt by the police to intimidate” them.

The heavy police presence did not deter the youths, who marched peacefully from Town House to the Harare Gardens, singing.

The youths waved placards and spoke about the need for Zanu PF government to provide them with jobs as was promised during the July 2013 election campaign.

Speaking at the commemorations, the National Youth Assembly spokesperson, Clifford Hlatywayo, said the Zanu PF government had failed to deliver.

“Those youngsters who were massacred in South Africa were young like us,” he said.

“They  rose to show they wanted their rights to be respected. So today, we are rising as youths, to demand our jobs, to demand our rights. We are doing this for posterity.

“We are fighting this struggle for economic justice, for jobs, for the respect of the people’s rights and for the benefit of the next generation.”

He said the solution to the current national crisis  was for youths to take action.

“We have problems with getting jobs, we must take action,” he said. “If Mugabe is our problem, we must take action. If the police trouble us, the solution is action.”

Speaking at the same event, the MDC shadow minister for Labour, Paurina Mpariwa, bemoaned the failure by Zanu PF to honour its constitutional obligations to provide jobs.

“A Job is a right,” she said.

“As parents, as leaders, it pains us to see so much unemployment in the nation especially for the youths.

“Our industries are down, people are losing jobs everyday. This kind of situation can not be allowed to go on, especially when certain people claim to be at the helm. Zimbabwe is ready for change. The youths should get the  jobs.”

Adding to the cries for jobs, James Chidhakwa, the Youth Assembly national secretary for security and defence,  said the Day of the African Child was significant to Zimbabwean youths as it was a demonstration of courage.

He said the youths had a role to take the destiny of Zimbabwe to another level.

“We have lost a lot of cadres along the way,” Chidhakwa said.

“We lost Tonderai Ndira, Joshua Bakacheza, Kauzani and many others at the hands of Zanu PF.

“They died demanding their rights to be respected.

“This day we continue to demand our jobs. You made promises, we demand those promised 2,2 million jobs.

“Too much fear brings misery to our land. Let us be bold and demand what is rightfully ours.”

Shakespear Mukoyi, the Harare Province youth chairperson, said the youths were no longer afraid of Zanu PF brutality, and said they were prepared to die for jobs and other rights.

“This illegitimate government cannot and will not silence us,” Mukoyi said.

“They must go because they were not mandated by the people. They promised 2,2 million jobs during their campaign, but they have ensured the same number of people have lost their jobs since they stole the election.

“They should have written 2,2 million job losses in their manifesto.”

The Harare provincial women’s chairperson, Ronia Bunjira said mothers were pained to see their children; university graduates suffering and selling “juice cards” (airtime recharge cards) for a living.

“The reason as mothers we came out to commemorate this day with you is because you are suffering and struggling to get jobs,” she said.

“This hurts the women more. We work hard to get you to school and it pains us to watch you sell DVDs and airtime vouchers. We demand that this government steps down and allow those who can govern to take over.”

Eric Murai, the Harare provincial chairperson, said it was painful that there are no jobs in the nation.

“It is improper for an elderly person to refuse to step down from a job because they will be denying the next generation an opportunity to work as well,” he said.

Similar commemorations were held in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza provinces  over the weekend.

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