Definition of Youth

The 2013 national youth policy defines youth as persons between 15 and 35 years of age. This age range is stipulated in the new Constitution and is also in line with the continental definition of youth as defined in the African Youth Charter.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • 16
  • --

  • Male homosexual acts illegal. Female homosexual acts legal, however no specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 7-14 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 7 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  Criminal Law of Zimbabwe

Majority Age


Source: Children´s Act (2002)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 89.96% Male (15-24) %
  • 93.49% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 36.74%Male %
  • 34.06% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 14.90% Male (13-15) %
  • 8.20% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
A nation youth policy was launched in 2000. Following criticism, a revised national youth policy was published in 2013.

Comparing the two versions of the youth policy, there appears to be no major difference in the texts. In 2013 the definition of youth shifted from ages 10-30 to 15-35, in line with the 2013 Constitution. The revised version places more emphasis on mainstreaming youth throughout all ministries. It principle guidelines are derived from existing national and international frameworks, such as the African Youth Charter (AYC), the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY).   Other youth legislation includes the Decent Work Country Programme for Zimbabwe (DWCP), launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Labour and Social Services and the Social Partners. It aims to combat the high levels of youth unemployment through initiatives such as the Skills for Youth Employment and Rural Development programme.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Department of Youth of the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation & Economic Empowerment is in charge of “mainstreaming youth in all national development policies and programmes” and to oversee the implementation of the national youth policy. The Department´s website lists three main areas of responsibility:
  • Vocational Skills training;
  • Programming;
  • National Youth Service.
The Zimbabwe Youth Council  (ZYC) assists government in the formulation of youth policies and monitors its implementation. It also supports youth organisations and clubs across the country.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Zimbabwe Youth Council  (ZYC) is a quasi-governmental organization administered by the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation & Economic Empowerment. It consists of 15 board members, of which seven are elected by registered Youth Associations, the remaining appointed by the Minister. It is responsible for registering youth organisations, clubs and trusts. The National Association of Youth Organisations is an umbrella body currently including 83 youth organizations. It promotes the role of youth in community and the development process.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
USD 44.5 million
The 2014 Estimates of Expenditure lists the budget for the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment as USD 44.5 million (figures given in USD only). However, there is no specific breakdown for youth expenditure. According to the World Bank, Zimbabwe spent 8.26 % of its government expenditure and 2.50% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From the 2010 Danish Youth Council report Young People’s possibilities for influence in Zimbabwe:
The political situation in Zimbabwe is extremely polarised. Youth organisations that are seemed to be connected with the opposition and working with democracy, governance, civil education, etc., are still seen as a threat to the ruling political party, and surveillance of youth organisations and control mechanisms have been set in place through legislation and regulations of existing laws to control the space for freedom of speech and assembly.
A number of Zimbabwean CSOs have expressed concern over the government’s plans to revive the controversial National Youth Service (NYS), which they argue is marked by a militaristic and partisan attitude. The youth militias were active in some of the 2008 electoral violence. In their statement, CSOs highlight:
(...) the role, form and nature of the previous National Youth Service which played a destructive role of polarizing communities, carried out unspeakable acts of violence and the militarization of the youth sector. Concerned by the proposed reintroduction of the Programme without taking note of the impact of past similar initiative to assist the shaping of the rebranded National Youth Training Programme. The proposed programme deserves the input of youths and youth friendly stakeholders to determine its strategic direction so that it gets a vote of confidence from the society.
CSOs and youth organisations engaged in the forum leading to the 2013 referendum on Zimbabwe’s new constitution highlighted the following points in an October 2012 statement:
[T]he draft has, generally, managed to capture youth issues in a progressive manner, but has gaps in that there is no representative body for the youth; The draft fails to institute representation of young women; the failure to mention youth in the bill of rights.
With regards to the Stakeholders Conference, the youth resolved to push for access to the conference and participate with a developed position paper with minimum demands and clear benchmarks.   The 2014 National Budget Statement reiterates the government’s focus on employment schemes:
The finalisation of the Youth Economic Empowerment Policy Framework remains a priority in championing participation of youths in income generating projects across all sectors of the economy. Mainstreaming the empowerment agenda, during the implementation of the Policy will be within the context of the SMEs development strategy.