No, Mandela did not sell out, each generation must fight its own demons.

Growing up in Zimbabwe, politics was a pastime activity for the mature and the old. A dangerous pastime so to speak. In those days, people with divergent views from the party and government did not discuss politics in the public, if they did, at least they did not dare express their honest opinions.

Even in the privacy of one’s home, politics was discussed in hushed voices. Maybe not true for all Zimbabweans but in our cramped ghettoes people could not risk being overheard by some overzealous Zanu PF party members, as back then they seemed to be everywhere.

But even during that time when most people were afraid to speak their minds in the public, the civil society led by a militant workers’ union and the vociferous student movement, successfully fought against the introduction of a one-party state. Then, workers and students were a true van guard of our democracy, as they stood for much more than their selfish concerns. A generation that heard a calling and responded accordingly.

A decade later, Zimbabweans from all walks of life responded to yet another call. We came together once again and through the Movement for Democratic Change almost brought an end to Zanu PF’s hegemony. Unfortunately, we have so far failed to realise this change we so desperately yearn for. Now, like a broken record we are stuck, we keep chanting change but are unable to move the country towards it.

Pointing to mistakes by our leaders in the opposition is quite easy, blaming them for our failure even easier. Instead, we must accept our responsibility, it is this present generation’s collective duty to rid our country of this thieving, corrupt and murderous Zanu PF regime.

Building on from last year’s momentum, which saw a rise in prominent and youthful activists such as Mawarire, Mkwananzi, Dzamara, Zvorwadza and Masarira among many others raising their voices, echoing our cries. They showed a glimpse of their potential, our collective potential at a time when the main stream opposition parties when consumed by internal squabbles.

But to be honest young people rising and stepping up to the plate is a two-way street. They are already  speaking up but what is now required from the seasoned opposition politicians is to give them room and allow them to blossom into their full potential. I know politics is a selfish game, no one is truly expected to create room for others but this is where we need our ingenuity, we must create an environment that enables renewal and the injection of new blood into the mainstream body politic.

The Chinese learned from Mao’s reluctance to step down

The Chinese leadership under Deng Xiaoping learned a vital lesson from chairman Mao’s reluctance to step down. They came to understand that if the communist party was to stay in power for a very long time and if their country was to develop and be able to compete in the fast-changing world they needed to constantly renew their leadership. Thus, they introduced reforms, no new member could be elected into either the central committee or the politburo after the age of 70 anymore and a president could no longer serve more than a maximum of 10 years.

Mandela did not sell out

The ANC has been able to survive for over a century because it understood the need for leadership renewal early. Mandela not only did he continue with that ANC tradition of leadership renewal but he extended it to the state too, avoiding a crisis that confronts most of Africa.

It is unfortunate that there is a section of the population that accuse him of selling out. I content that it can only be this lazy generation that accuses Mandela of selling out because it expects to be handed down everything on a silver platter. Where else could it get the temerity to accuse Mandela of selling out? How did these people expect Mandela to reverse 4 centuries of colonialism and white domination in only five years that he ruled South Africa? He was not a super human being, he was flesh and blood like all of us.

Comrades, that is not selling out, it is called sharing responsibility with the next generation. Theirs fought the liberation struggle, got political power and handed it to the next generation. Now that political power is in the hands of the people, it is this generation’s duty and privilege to push the decolonisation agenda forward. Knowing that freedom is a struggle and that a struggle is a never-ending process as noted by Rousseau in his social contract when he said ‘a man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’. Each generation has to keep breaking those chains and pushing further the frontiers of freedom.

In Zimbabwe there is no succession planning.

Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, be it in the ruling party, opposition or civic society, the tradition is ‘abaiwa ngabude’ loosely translated to mean that if you harbour leadership ambitions, just break away and form your own party or organisation.

The concept of leadership renewal is alien. Robert Mugabe as frail and old as he is, he still wants to go on for another term. If he was doing a sterling job, we could easily find it in our hearts of hearts to forgive him but the economy has been in tatters for the past two and half decades and there is no respite in sight.

In 2013, Tsvangirai pledged to step down, if he lost the previous elections, but all we ever got were excuses on why honouring his pledge would be a betrayal of the people. Forgotten is the fact that he had already served 13 years as the leader of the MDC. In 2006, Lovemore Madhuku had to change the National Constitutional Assembly’s constitution in order to quench his insatiable thirst for power. Fast forward to 2011, another Lovemore surnamed Matombo caused a split in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) by attempting to cling on to power after the expiry of his two five-year terms.

This very same phenomenon has also occurred in organisations such as Zimrights, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and many others. This failure at handing over power or rather the failure to handle succession is the chief reason that has led to the multiplication of political parties and civil society organisations in the country. The sooner, we all understand that no matter how charismatic leaders are, they come and at some point, they must go, the better for our country and organisations respectively.

It is one thing for these individuals to not want to handover the power but is another thing for us not to take corrective action. Zimbabwe, handing over power to your successor is not an act of cowardice and neither does that bring one’s masculinity into question. Instead, it is a brave act and a mark of true leadership. As they say the primary role of true leaders is to produce more leaders not followers.

Zimbabweans, young people in particular, the time is now, for you to amplify your voices and reclaim your destiny. For how long should Zimbabweans be constantly reminded by Zanu PF to cherish peace they brought through the barrel of the gun? Peace and tranquillity that we enjoy in our own misery.

Rousseau says its force that is used to make someone a slave but it can only be their cowardice that perpetuates their condition. Yes, Zanu PF has used violence in the past to intimidate and cow us into submission but we must throw away that fear and face Zanu PF head own.

What else have we got to lose but our chains? Have we lost our desire for a New Zimbabwe, where dreams and aspirations are fulfilled?

Young people, now is the time, 2017 is the year, change must come in Mugabe’s lifetime.

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Tsvangirai must listen to the unspoken words and read between the lines: Coalition Talks

There can be no doubt that Robert Mugabe’s grip on power is slipping. The so called one centre of power can longer hold Zanu PF together. Even after expelling a whole faction led by Joyce Mujuru, factionalism remains rife in the party.

Not only is Zanu PF riddled with factionalism but 2016 has also seen a rise in public discontent marked by public sector strikes and street protests. Bond notes have come, they might be able to cure symptoms like cash shortages and bank queues in the short run but rest assured they will not be able to resolve Zimbabwe’s underlying economic problem. At some point in the near future the country will not be able to finance its ever-growing import bill. Which will in turn cause high inflation, shortages of basic goods and the re-emergence of the black-market.

Not so good news for the ordinary person but in all intents and purposes a conducive environment for the opposition to thrive going into the 2018 elections. In spite of this promising prospect, the opposition in its foolishness has turned its knives towards one another.

No, we will not allow them to kick the ball into the woods (kurovera bhora musango) when the goal is gaping. Their minor squabbles will not detract us from the task at hand, change is too an important objective to forgo on account of a few inflated egos.

Whether or not to participate in 2018 elections without reforms.
As we all engross ourselves with preparations for 2018, the opposition must make its position on 2018 clear. We need to know if they will participate in the next general elections or not. What we know is that Zanu PF is most unlikely to institute further reforms. Common sense tells us, they will not reform themselves out of power.

I hope no one thinks that the opposition is capable of forcing these reforms through Zanu PF’s throat. Remember, all it took to stop the NERA demonstrations was a single police order issued by a little known Chief Superintend Newbert Saunyama who commands the Harare district.

We therefore, must expect a flawed electoral playing field going into 2018. Never the less, an election boycott is still unacceptable, a no brainer at least in my humble opinion. Timing is everything in politics. In 2013, boycotting the election made sense. Then, the opposition had leverage, even the SADC mediation team advised the opposition to boycott the election. Not only that, the world’s eyes were on Zimbabwe and more importantly, Zanu PF was in desperate need for legitimacy after the sham 2008 election. Unfortunately, boycotting the next general election is not different to closing the stables when the horse has already bolted. The boycott will certainly make headlines for a couple of months but will be soon forgotten, just like how we have forgotten crises in Burundi and Ethiopia.

A case for a coalition
If we are to participate in the next general elections, then we must draw lessons from the opposition in Seychelles and Gambia who recently won elections against authoritarian regimes in their respective countries.

Seychelles’ opposition having boycotted the 2011 elections, demanding electoral reforms, came together and formed a coalition which contested parliamentary elections this year. The coalition won a majority in the parliament for the first time since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1993.

In Gambian for the first time in two decades, the opposition came together and formed a coalition, rallying behind a single candidate who ran against president Jammeh. They were able to bring president Jammeh’s 22-year rule to an end by re-energising their support base in the face of intimidation and other underhand tactics employed by the former president.

With this positive message coming from across Africa, that it is possible to defeat these tyrants, it is sad to hear all this bickering in the opposition camp. More so, when they all believe that a united opposition stands a much better chance of unseating a weakened Zanu PF from power. Only through a coalition can the demoralised voter be re-energised. Joining hands shows a serious intend of purpose and has the potential of exciting the new voter, creating a momentum that has been lacking ever since that election in 2013.

As I have highlighted above, I am no fan of boycotting the 2018 elections. But assuming there were no reforms and the opposition were to boycott the election, would it not be better to do so collectively under the banner of a coalition?

An indictment on Tsvangirai’s leadership
In the midst of verbal insults and bickering, great leaders have the ability to read between the lines, to listen to the words unspoken. If only Tsvangirai could listen, listen not only to his kitchen cabinet, I am sure he would hear the smaller opposition parties begging for his leadership.

The only reason why smaller parties and outsiders took the initiative to set the Cape Town talks is because Tsvangirai has failed to provide that much required leadership. If 2018 is going to mean something then he must step up and take responsibility, time is not on our side. After all the objective of the coalition is to try and rally behind his candidature against Robert Mugabe in 2018.

There are those who do not want Tsvangirai to join hands with anyone, saying the MDCT is big. Of course, it is true that Tsvangirai leads the biggest opposition party in the country but what honour is there in leading an opposition party that never gets power? History is awash with so many forgotten opposition leaders. He must be reminded that he stands to personally benefit from working with his former colleagues. Even in elementary politicking one is taught to work with their enemies to achieve their objectives. We cannot afford to miss another opportunity in 2018, its totally unacceptable considering how vulnerable Zanu PF is at the moment.

Decision time
Politics is always a game of imperfect choices, decisions are never completely right or wrong but never the less they must be made. All we demand from the opposition is clarity. They must come clean with the people of Zimbabwe who have placed their hope for a new Zimbabwe in them. They must tell the people whether they want to form a coalition or not and whether they will participate in 2018 elections or not.

The people have a right to know the options on the table, 2018 is too important an election to walk blindly into.

If we could forgive Ian Smith, why can we not work with Mujuru?

A week ago I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who in my eyes seemed to be doing quite well for himself. I was shocked to learn that he was planning to relocate to some foreign country in the near future. Even though his business was relatively successful, putting food on the table, he could not imagine the economy recovering any time soon in the hands of Zanu PF. He bemoaned that it was becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. With the current cash shortages and the re-introduction of a Zimbabwean currency under some dubious name, rest assured that many people share my friend’s gloomy economic outlook. It does not require a highly imaginative or intellectual mind to see where Zimbabwe is heading. I foresee the country plunging into an economic crisis, an economic crisis even deeper than the one we experienced in the year 2008.

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