Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza on Wednesday launched a Youth Investment Bank (BIJE) worth 10billion of Burundi francs –a demand made by the youth in 2016 after a failed coup and resultant protests.
“The Bank will provide technical assistance intended to facilitate the development of businesses and or cooperatives of young people,” Nkurunziza said at the launch.
According to sources, the shareholders in this bank include; State (15%) and the municipalities (85%, 71 million each) totaling Fbu 10 billion of share capital. The Bank will finance youth cooperatives or associations at an interest rate of 7%.
Nkurunziza cautioned young people not to listen to “malicious people who want to plunge them back into a disastrous situation as was the case in the recent past in 2015.”
On April 25th, 2015, Burundi’s ruling party Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie – Forces pour Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD) announced at a congress that Pierre Nkurunziza would be the party flag bearer in the presidential elections.
Nkurunziza was among 1000 members that attended the party congress and made very seditious statements after prompting massive protests across the country.
Protestors rejected Nkurunziza’s manipulations of both the party and national constitutions and the Arusha accord. He had completed his second term in office and according to the law was nonrenewable.
“I would like to warn everyone: whoever wants to create problems with the ruling party elected by the people, he’ll find himself in trouble,” a furious Nkurunziza said, adding “No one will stop the CNDD-FDD party.”
Opposition swiftly mobilised supporters across the country leading to massive processions from the villages pouring onto the streets of the capital Bujumbura.
The ruling party was thrown in panic and unleashed security personnel against the protestors mostly youth. Hundreds were killed as thousands fled the country to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and DRC.
On the afternoon of May 13th, 2015, while in a military barracks, General Godefroid Niyombare announced before journalists, “President Pierre Nkurunziza has been dismissed from his duties; the government is dismissed.”
At the time of the coup attempt, President Nkurunziza was in Tanzania to attend an East African summit on the political situation in Burundi.
However, the coup was averted as pro-Nkurunziza forces battled the forces loyal to the coup plotters.
Nkurunzia stated on the radio, from Tanzania, that the coup had failed-this message was relayed by the President of Burundi’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
President Nkurunziza returned to Burundi May 14th, 2015 and went to Ngozi in his native province. Elections were later held and he won but opposition contested the polls.
The following year, Nkurunziza was careful about the youth’s lethal power. He organized a large youth conference on March 31st, 2016 in Gitega to understand their grievances against him and collectively negotiating a solution.
Despite President Nkurunzia’s intimidatory stance, the youth seemed not shaken. This was the first time they were meeting since the bloody protests.
The conference was themed ‘The role of Youth in the development and maintenance of security.’
“In recent days, the crisis that we have experienced has brought to light the limits of Burundian youth in distinguishing good from evil. We have a duty to guide you on the right path,” said Pierre Nkurunziza.
He told them that a country without a clear-sighted and hard-working youth is a country with no future. Always keep in mind that those who shed their blood for our independence were the same age as you.
Burundi has a population of 12 million but more than 60% of the population is aged between 0-25 years.
Nkurunziza argued; “it is very unfortunate to note that young people are always sought after by certain people who seek only their personal interests.”
Similar Youth conferences have been held annually since the first one in 2016 and various recommendations have been made including; skilling the youth, engaging in development projects, access to credit, enlisting in military, and education.
According to Nkurunziza, “youth, without benchmarks, is youth without a future.” He called on young people to choose between the good and the evil.
However, Nkurunziza has closed all borders to Burundi’s neighbours banned citizens from freely engaging in cross border trading. Unemployment level is so high in Burundi and the country is deeply isolated from the region.
As a means of containing the lethal power of the youth, Nkurunziza has enlisted them into a state sponsored militia Imbonerakure currently used to execute all sorts of horror against opposition in the country.
After isolating the country from the rest of the world, Nkurunziza ordered the Imbonerakure to collect funds from citizens that will be used for preparing the forthcoming general elections despite the global Covid19 pandemic.
Burundi is bracing for Presidential elections in May. But this time Nkurunziza will not appear on the ballot paper- he has already secured an exit package of U$500,000, a palatial mansion and a handsome lifetime monthly salary.