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Address cost of living crisis

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GLOBAL attention shifts to the United Nations this week as global leaders attend important summits to discuss serious challenges affecting an increasingly unpredictable world.

The 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77) opened on 13 September and will end on 22 September. The first day of the high-level general debate will be 20 September 2022.

The leaders have their work cut out for them. Wherever you look, there is no shortage of crises on the global stage; from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to a cost-of-living emergency that has left billions of people on the planet struggling to put food on the table, the list of problems is formidable.

The rising cost of food, fuel and living expenses has plunged families into untold poverty, even in developed countries. In developing nations, extreme poverty is on the rise.

In much of the world, post-Covid economic recovery has been sluggish and fraught with uncertainty.

People who were already impoverished before the pandemic have been plunged into extreme poverty. In Zimbabwe, this state of affairs is glaringly evident.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is on record as saying part of Zimbabwe’s huge windfall from the International Monetary Fund will be spent on cushioning vulnerable members of society from the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic. But you would be hard-pressed to find even one citizen who can testify to receiving such assistance in this country. The absence of social safety nets is reflective of the Zanu PF governance ethos. The ruling elites and their cronies are enjoying the fat of the land and they are not shy to flaunt their ill-gotten riches. Citizens are on their own.

Civil society organisations are questioning the handling of the IMF Special Drawing Rights purse, and rightly so. A government must be accountable to its citizens.

There is a massive scandal surrounding Covid-19 procurement in Zimbabwe.

Public procurement rules were routinely flouted, and nobody has been held accountable. A culture of impunity has taken root.

At UNGA 77, one of the important summits is titled “Transforming Education”.

The UN says the global crisis in education is one of equity, inclusion, quality and relevance. Lack of access to education is having a devastating impact on the futures of children and youth worldwide. Hopefully, the summit will remind political leaders to urgently attend to this pressing matter.

Unicef says nearly 50% of Zimbabwean youths have dropped out of school owing to chronic poverty aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, 21% of Zimbabwean youth were not in school. Now the number stands at 47%. This is a deeply troubling statistic.

Now, more than ever before, the UN has a huge responsibility to steer countries in a better direction.

Sadly, most leaders use the UN platform for political grandstanding and cheap point scoring.

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