By Tafadzwa Murangwana
The state broadcaster on Monday ran their top stories around the ‘meet the youth’ tour that President Robert Mugabe will embark on this Friday in Marondera at the behest of the party’s youth league led by Kudzai Chipanga. I could not stomach that the reports which suggested that, top on the agenda would be the issue to do with residential stands. Is this what most of the youths are yearning for – a residential stand? It is apparent that the ruling party is now desperate to canvass voters through the youth by parceling residential stands.
President Robert Mugabe obviously will cede to most of the youth demands given the fact that the war veterans have spoken blatantly against his misrule of this country. The war veterans have over the years been the biggest mobilisers of support for the 93-year-old leader. In 2008 when Mugabe was handed his first election defeat by MDC-T ‘ s Morgan Tsvangirai, some of the former war liberators unleashed violent acts on suspected opposition supporters. Security chiefs became partisan with some saying they will not tolerate a leader without war credentials.
Most war veterans have come out clear that they are angling for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from President Robert Mugabe and have been on a collision course with G40 which comprises mostly young party members. So with the ‘meet the youth’ rally it becomes clear that the faction would have made milestones in wooing the aging leader to their corner. The youth leader Kudzai Chipanga has been praised on numerous occasions by the old leader for having organized a successful ‘Million Men March’ last year and the youthful leader who is alleged to be from G40 has turned himself into a serial bootlicker who will stop at nothing to ensure that Mugabe is in power.
On one occasion he suggested that Mugabe be declared a life President in a move that will dash the hopes of the Lacoste faction. The coming youth rallies by President Mugabe will in one way or the other convey a message that the old leader is discarding the war veterans rendering them ‘spent force’ and is likely to accept the demands made by the youths.
WHAT THE PRESIDENT SHOULD BE ASKED
The Zanu PF youth league will entice me if they take the man himself to the cleaners asking him questions on what most youths are yearning for but I know that won’t happen. It is not the residential stands that he has been made to believe the youths are clamoring for. If given the residential stands, where will the youths get money to develop it when there is so much unemployment.
His Excellency should be reminded about his electoral promise of 2,2 million jobs and why he has failed to deliver but has maintained a bloated cabinet. He should be asked about why he has kept a soft stance against corrupt bigwigs with some of them being his praise-singers.
A former ZANU PF member Setfree Mafukidze who is now with the Mujuru-led NPP weighed in saying “Mugabe can meet the people particularly the youths but it would have been better if he was meeting them as retired President imparting knowledge and wisdom to them, meeting the youths while he still holds the office of the president is an insult to any progressive young person. Ironically at Rudhaka stadium where he once told the same young people they would get 2,2 million jobs in 2013 as part of his re-election campaign,” said Mafukidze.
He also reiterated that the youths must use that opportunity to demand their jobs from Mugabe as well as land which they were again used to grab on behalf of Mugabe’s cronies.
REASONS WHY THE OPPOSITION SHOULD BE WORRIED
While the opposition forces have criticized the ‘meet the youth rallies’ it should also awaken from its deep slumber. It is spending way too much energy on fighting for electoral reforms and on coalition while ZANU PF is already in campaign mode. Of late we have witnessed various programs being rolled out to many sectors of the economy. There is the command maize farming which has been reported as a huge success now there are moving to other sectors of agriculture, the RBZ recently launched a facility that will assist cross-boarders which was done in partnership with Cross-Boarders Association of Zimbabwe led by Killer Zivhu – a staunch ruling party supporter.
Norton Independent Member of Parliament Themba Mliswa has tipped the opposition on how they can be able to trounce ZANU PF in elections but it seems no one is paying attention as evidenced by how day in day out the private media is reporting on how the opposition is haggling on who to lead the coalition and the Biometric Voter Registration while mobilizing of the voters is being accorded less energy.
According to Mliswa, the opposition should do more to reach out to the rural youths who largely vote compared to their urban counterparts. The opposition used to get overwhelming support from the urban areas but the2013 elections saw a diminishing support base
URBAN VOTE AND THE NEW VOTERS
With the above scenario, these youth rallies which will be held in cities and towns might be a ploy to ‘vote-buy’ the urban youths who might find everything to vote for in the ruling party if they are given the residential stands – which are being promised in an environment where acquiring housing stands is a nightmare for most Zimbabweans.
The opposition has also been criticized for not taking advantage of the new voters while reports are suggesting that ZANU PF is targeting to parcel residential stands to youths under the age of 18. The number of new voters is very critical in swaying the outcome of 2018 elections but there is a glaring lack of strategy among the opposition forces to capture such a key number. Right now, there is the popular culture, Zimdancehall and there have never been efforts by the opposition to invite some of this sought –after Zimdancehall artiste to grace their rallies and then be able to put their messages across. Just imagine having Soul Jah Luv with his popular song ‘Pamamonya Ipapo’ having a free show at Morgan Tsvangirai’s rally. It is in this regard that after all has been said and done, the youth rallies by President Mugabe should make the opposition quake in its boots otherwise without a clear strategy the Afrobarometer survey that put Sekuru vaSimbanashe as the most trusted leader will be confirmed come 2018.