February 2017- The Road to Davos Town hall was a historic event where His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was interviewed by the youths from across Zimbabwe and the interview was streamed live on Facebook. It was the first ever Town Hall meeting with the President in Zimbabwe. The forum, organised by Global Shapers, comprised of a group of young people representing various youth groups across Zimbabwe. The meeting dubbed “A dialogue for youths in shaping Zimbabwe’s economic future” was in preparation for the World Economic Forum which was to take place in Davos, Switzerland where the President and his delegation represented Zimbabwe.
The event was planned and organised by Global Shapers Harare Hub and the Global Shapers Bulawayo Hub with the assistance of the Office of President and Cabinet, The Ministry of Youth and Women Affairs, partners and sponsors stated above. Major preparations included meetings with the partners, securing funding, venue acquisition and raising awareness via television, radio and social media platformsT
An opening prayer was given by Pastor Taz Mtungwazi, a pastor at Celebration Church. The event kicked off with the National Anthem sung uniquely by Amanda Badze. The introduction was given by the Curator for the Harare Hub Rinos Mautsa. His Excellency, the President was introduced by the Honorable Minister Sithembiso Nyoni who highlighted that the President was only forty-four days in office at the time.
The discussion kicked off with a selfie of the President and the moderator Vimbayi Kajese who is a Young Global Leader and this lightened the atmosphere. The President in his remarks, indicated that he expected to see more young people engaged in the affairs that affect our nation. The meeting was a success with leaders of various youth groups expressing their concerns to the President who showed a lot of interest in youth developmental affairs. Their nervousness was however visible due to the newness in this kind of event which was the first ever of its kind in the history of Zimbabwe.
His Excellency President Mnangagwa urged youth to accept change as the world is a dynamic world that keeps on changing. “Those who do not want to change will remain behind, change can only be attained by dialogue. Do not be afraid of the new leadership,”
said the President. He also encouraged the spirit of brotherhood and peace amongst the youth as he urged them to let bygones be bygones. Responding to youth that shared their concerns, the President highlighted that the government was making positive steps towards attaining the desired goals. “Most of you think l should have resolved all these issues in 6 weeks. This shows they have faith in us. Let us agree, whenever the need arises, to meet. I will always make time to meet with you because you (the youth) are the future,” he said. Besides the President, there were a number of leaders from various government departments and ministries.
He encouraged youths to articulate their challenges freely as the new dispensation will listen to their concerns and address them. Responding to questions during a dialogue with youths in Harare, the President said dialogue and proper communication were key in taking the country out of economic challenges. The dialogue was organised by Global Shapers Community, a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change. “Wherever the youths are in Zimbabwe, I say to them this is a moment where they must speak out,” He said. “Where they must tell my administration what their challenges are, what they want us to do, what environment they want my team to create for them.
We are good listeners. I myself I am a good listener and would want to listen and with them, dialogue, and say this is where I want to go.” He went on: “One principle in my own vision is that this nation should not go where it wants to go, but it should go where it ought to go, nice or not nice. As a leader I have a vision as to where the nation should go and fortunately my team supports that vision. I would want to share with the young generation because we are doing this for them, for their future lives so that when they take over from us they have a vision of a country that is united, a vision that works and makes sure whatever they are doing they are doing it not only for their own good, but the legacy of generations to come.” President Mnangagwa said there was no reason for the youths to be afraid of articulating their concerns and encouraged them to come forward and say what they want so see get done. “I need dialogue, contact, discussion and conversation with the young generation for me to understand their challenges and aspirations. Where we are able, we satisfy their aspirations and needs and where we are not, we will be able to explain. I would want them to be involved in these issues so that we leave a legacy where they feel proud of us when we are gone.” President Mnangagwa said Government would put in place safety nets to assist youths who failed to succeed in a free market economy. He said Zimbabweans should embrace changes happening in the world of technology if the country was to develop. “Change is not easily embraced by everybody,” he said. “Some people are so entrenched, rooted and conservative and would not want to embrace change as quickly as others.
We must realise that we are not an island. We are living in a global village where things are changing on
a daily basis and we should not remain behind. I believe that the younger generation is more adaptable to change because you have been brought up in that environment. You might have challenges with my colleagues at my level, but fortunately my team in Government accepts that there is change and we must embrace it.” President Mnangagwa said many institutions
countrywide were rooted in the past. “We have headmasters who have been in charge for 20 years or more and they do not want to change, but let me assure you that those who do not want to change will remain behind,” he said. “We must change for the better not for the worse.” President Mnangagwa said that youths should not be used in vices such as violence as the country is geared for harmonised elections this year. “I believe we have capacity as Zimbabweans to be honest about ourselves,” he said.
“The youths should not allow themselves to be used by individuals. They must be patriotic and proud youths who want to build a peaceful Zimbabwe for themselves and their children. That should be the message.”