By Ntombi Mkandhla

Former Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister talks politics and economic issues at Wits Business School

Technology can help bring African youth into decision-making on the continent, although governments and other important stakeholders need to create the necessary environment.
This was the argument of former Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara at his Path to Power public lecture on Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis hosted at the Wits Business School (WBS) on Wednesday, March 13.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that factors such as the accessibility of the internet and high data prices hinder its growth and effective use.
“Governmental system should create an environment where technology is a major enabler,” Mutambara said.
According to the Internet World Statistics, over 453 million of the 1.3 billion Africans use the Internet. The number of users has ballooned by 9 942% since 2000, but the continent still lags far behind others in Internet use.

Mutambara says African governments should work to remedy the problems young people face.
He also added that young people should not despair but adopt personal agency.

“Young people should not wait to be given opportunities, they should grab them,” he said.

Regarding the ways in which technology can propel activism, Mutambara gave the example of social media which can be used to give information to supporters and mobilise them.
He cited Zimbabwean pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, who started the #ThisFlag movement in 2016 on social media, contributing to the end of the rule of former President Robert Mugabe.
“This shows you the power of conviction and technology combined together,” Mutambara said.

As technology can link people on different sides of the world, Mutambara said people are not restricted by location in their participation in nation building. Given Zimbabwe’s current political and economic crisis, “[Zimbabweans] in the diaspora can help Zimbabwe with ideas, connections and remittances,” he said.

During the event, Professor Mills Soko of the International Business and Strategy at WBS and discussion facilitator, asked Mutambara what South Africa’s role would be in helping Zimbabwe.
Mutambara highlighted South Africa’s involvement in Zimbabwe’s 2009 Government of National Unity as an important means of regional support and mediation.

One of the attendees, Mamorena Madisha, who works for the Provident Fund in Employee Relations, asked Mutambara why he has not worked with Zimbabwe’s current government to bring about change.
While Mutambara is currently in political retirement, he said he does have the responsibility, as does every Zimbabwean, to see the country undergo reforms.
“Zimbabweans will never be respected as a people until Zimbabwe is taken seriously as a country,” he said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Prof Mills Soko and Prof Mutambara talk power and politics at the Wits Business School.

Photo: Ntombi Mkandhla