I have been fascinated by Julius Malema of late and honestly speaking who hasn’t. Just how he has managed to capture the interest of the world both for the right and the wrong reasons. What has aroused my interest more than anything is the autonomy of the Youth League from the ANC structures, what it means, its advantages and the disadvantages how to manage such a relationship without causing chaos and friction in the party. There is certainly a lesson to be learned from the ANC which is the oldest political party in the continent if I am not mistaken, but if I am I stand to be corrected.
So this Julius Malema issue prompted me to think deeper and ask questions about the political party I not only belong to but also love whole heartedly with all its flaws. Here are some of the questions that came to my mind. Does the youth assembly play the sort of mediating role, merely reproducing the established political views expressed by the mother body or its an active member in the production of politics that is in the sense of creating a new voice.? While the frameworks within the MDC target the youth and strongly recommend the presence of young people, what exactly is the role attributed to them within that process?
Exactly how much leeway is the Youth Assembly allowed in the production of politics? I answered all these questions in my head of course and you actually thought I was going to spill that out, I though for a moment I was not going to share my honest answers with you but on the other hand it doesn’t hurt to be honest or does it, in any case I hope it doesn’t injure the good relations I have with some of the youth assembly leaders and those in the mother body politic. I will reiterate this my intentions are not only pure but also good.
So my answers where that:
The youth assembly merely reproduces established views of the mother body. The role of the youth assembly was just to convey the mother body’s message down its stream Lastly that it did not have much leeway in the production of politics. The next question that comes to mind is how do we address that ? My humble opinion is that by making the YA autonomous from the mother body it will be able to address all the questions asked above.
Why Autonomy of Youth Assembly
There will be people in the mother body who will accuse the proponents of the autonomy of the YA as trying to completely detach the YA from the general movement, Some will definitely say this out of fear of a powerful and robust YA, self preservation mechanism I would say, but it should be known that the independence of the Youth Assembly will go a long way in the protection of young people’s rights and providing for the needs of the youth. The autonomy of the youth assembly will play a genuine vanguard role in the broader movement safeguarding the tenets of democracy. Only an independent youth assembly, that is, self-governing can develop bold and determined revolutionary fighters and astute organisers in the building of a democratic Zimbabwe.
At the same time young people should not be encouraged merely to copy or assimilate what is handed over to them. They should do that through an investigative and critical approach. Real education in struggle on the part of the youth cannot be separated from their independent political involvement. A profound appreciation by the youth of the democratic ideals we are fighting for is better consolidated if verified by their independent experience in the struggle. The autonomy of the MDC Youth Assembly and generally young people in all revolutions is elementary to a revolution’s progress and success. Revolutions are by their very nature activities of young people, and marginalising young people merely into a preparatory arrangement within revolutionary movements stifles the political and ideological development of such movements. History proves that almost all if not all national liberation and revolutionary movements that do not have autonomous youth formations degenerate into insignificance with the passage of time, Zanu pf, UNIP of Zambia and MCP of Malawi providing classic examples. Autonomy of the Assembly will offer the opportunity for the realization of the boundless resources of energy, enterprise, initiative and free application of the creative potential of our youth”.
How the Autonomy should be structured?
The autonomy of the MDCYA should be modelled on the lines of organisational independence and political subordination of the MDC . Thus the MDC YA should exist as an autonomous structure within the ANC. This means it is able to develop and implement its own programmes, convene congresses and run its administration. This is done within the broad policy direction and political leadership of the MDC.
The Constitutional relationship of the MDC YA and the MDC.
Thus the Constitution of the MDC Youth Assembly should categorically state that it is an autonomous body within the overall structure of the MDC of which it shall be an integral part. It shall be based on the political and ideological objectives of the MDC. The MDC`s Constitution should also categorically state the Youth Assembly as an autonomous body within the overall structure of the MDC, of which it will be an integral part, with its own Constitution, rules and regulations, provided that these shall not be in conflict with the Constitution and policies of the MDC. The Constitutions of both the MDC and MDC YA should not only be recited as a form of giving a sense of the autonomous, but not independent relationship between the MDC YA and the MDC, yet the relationship should by no way be a mere Constitutional relationship.
The autonomy of the MDC Youth Assembly is a vital political relationship, which can never be reduced to a Constitutional relationship and sacrificed in the course of the revolution. Autonomy of the MDC Youth Assembly is not a by the way issue, but a revolutionary organisational practice which if ignored, could undermine the impetus and energy that young people should impact in any radical political, economic and social change of society. The Autonomy of the Youth Assembly should not just be reduced to organisational autonomy, where the youth organise their own meetings, but do not make their own decisions. It should mean the right of the Youth Assembly to formulate independent political, ideological and strategic perspectives in the course of the struggle. An independent capacity and ability to robustly advocate for such perspectives.
The autonomy of the YA should not be reduced into a constitutional matter without politics, it will be a political blunder with massive consequences. That is why the autonomy of the MDC YA to effectively participate in the liberation and democratization of Zimbabwe There is an abundance of scholarly articles providing both theoretical and empirical evidence that the more the youths are active in the production of politics the less likely they are manipulated for small financial rewards, as a means to mitigate this the youths can have a meaningful voice thus becoming true actors in the politics of the country rather than being mere pawns in the broader political discourse that will be able to air its views in the political discourse of the nation without any fear.
Not having fear should not be taken in its literal sense and never to be used to undermine the mother body. As the legacy of the Arab spring dawns on us and we enter the final stages of our democratic struggle against the autocratic rule of RGM ‘s legacy, we expect the youth to play a significant part in the search for new principles that will bring about stability in the Zimbabwean political order. In forging the future, the Youth Assembly will have to operate under the MDC, but on terms more fitting of the historical circumstances that lie ahead than those of the past Long Live The MDC