By Felix Matasva
YOUTHS have called on the government to reduce tax on new digital media technology saying this would foster their participation in natural resources and economic governance processes.
These sentiments came out during a recent youth symposium which was facilitated in Bulawayo by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).
The youth symposium is an annual event that offers a platform for youths to exchange ideas on how to improve their understanding of debt, tax, and environmental discourses.
The youths were responding to ZELA’s programmes assistant Fadzai Midzi, who had urged them to participate in environmental management through new digital media technology.
“The world is getting digital and youths must take advantage of these technologies in order to strengthen their participation in natural resources governance processes,” Midzi said.
“Let’s use social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram to enhance youth participation in tax, debt, and environmental justice.”
The spread of digital technologies can empower the poor with access to information, job opportunities, and services that alleviate their standard of living.
A ZCC official Chantelle Mhlanga said the prices of technological gadgets were beyond the reach of the majority of citizens, thereby hampering youth participation in sustainable development.
“The last time I checked, I realised that tax charged on technological gadgets are very high. The taxes must be lowered down so that youths can have full access to technological devices like laptops,” she said.
“We must move away from the old times whereby one needs to be at school or work in order to have access to laptops,” said Mhlanga adding that access to technological gadgets was negatively affecting youth participation in economic governance issues.
Idries Chaibva of Social and Economic Justice Activism Academy (SEJA) Bulawayo Chapter said the government must subsidise technological gadgets and data tariffs.
“The government must subsidise technological gadgets for the youths. It must regulate prices and not leave service providers at liberty to raise data tariffs. We are sick and tired of service providers, ” Chaibva charged.
ZIMCODD campaigns officer Angellah Mandoreba told NewZimbabwe.com at the sidelines of the youth symposium that current prices of technological devices and data costs are beyond the reach of youths since many are unemployed.
“We have seen youths demanding the reduction of taxes on gadgets like phones and also data itself to ensure maximum accessibility. The high costs of technology pose a systematic structural exclusion of youths from participating in economic governance processes through online platforms,” she said.
“Youths constitute a larger chunk of the country’s population hence we can not afford to exclude this demographic group from economic governance.
“Youths are the future of Zimbabwe hence if we exude them now they will not be able to decide on their own destiny,” said Mandoreba.