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Youths burdened by COVID-19 induced lockdown

High data tariffs, limited movement and lack of access to opportunities irks youths in rural and urban parts of Zimbabwe particularly during a time when the country is on Level Two of the nation-wide COVID-19 lock down.

These sentiments were shared by Executive Director at Youth Invest, Nomqhele Siziba during an edition of the In Her Own Voice Radio show that was facilitated by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) on Skyz Metro FM.

Siziba said this was due to the escalating rate of the United States Dollar (USD) against the local currency and that working from home has proved beneficial only to citizens who work in the formal sector as opposed to those in the informal sector.

“Limited movement due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown, is forcing young to track online based opportunities but this pursuit is not yielding fruitful results. The Ministry of Youth released a COVID-19 Youth Relief Fund for registered businesses which can be applied for through an online platform but it has its challenges,” said Siziba.

Siziba said the online application is not accessible to all youths.

“With the current data tariffs, there is no way that one can be able to utilize $5.50ZWL to complete an online application process. 20mb hardly does much for any person who is seriously trying to make an application for the cushioning allowance,” she said.

Siziba said the fund intends to support youths with amount that ranges between $3.000 ZWL and $5.000 ZWL and requires a proof of location of the business.

“In order for you to be eligible, you are expected to submit a bank statement of at least 6 months to prove that you have been in existence before the lockdown. But, how do youths submit these forms when most youth led businesses are largely informal? These processes are too elite as they are for a select number of young people and most youths will not be able to benefit from them.”

Siziba also said rural based – youth led businesses are likely to miss out on the COVID-19 Youth Relief Fund as they are in remote areas without internet connectivity.

“What happens with those who are in eSiphezini, Kesington, and Solusi? It’s not clear on the District they will register under. Limited transportation into Bulawayo might pose as a challenge for those travelling from the neighbouring areas,” said Siziba.

Siziba called on the decentralization of the application process for the COVID-19 Youth Relief Fund and proposed that the Ministry should come up with transparent documentation procedures for the benefit of everyone involved.

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