VICTORIA FALLS — Opposition ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa (pictured) has challenged youths not to flee economic challenges afflicting the country, but to instead push for an overhaul of the country’s political leadership.
Dabengwa said he and his peers were now too old to bring about meaningful change to Zimbabwe’s economic and political fortunes and urged young people to step up to the challenge.
This, apparently, is a rare admission from a Zimbabwean politician, as many of the country’s former liberation war stalwarts have refused to give way to young blood, suspecting that they would betray the liberation war ethos.
Dabengwa who was addressing a rally at Ndlovu, a few kilometres outside the resort town of Victoria Falls in the Matabeleland North province, said youths should strive to get involved in the country’s affairs and be interested in politics.
“We are now old, but here we are trying to help you. You should stand up. This is like a relay where we should pass on the baton stick. In a relay, you are supposed to hand the baton to someone who is beginning to sprint … but if you run with no one to hand the baton stick, it will fall,” he said.
He said while the idea behind a faction in the ruling ZANU-PF dubbed Generation 40 was noble, unfortunately the people behind it were not well-groomed.
“The concept is good, but the personalities are bad. They are bad news because they are modelled in an ideology we are trying to change,” Dabengwa said.
He said young people should push for the full implementation of the new Constitution in the same way the war veterans pushed for the liberation of the country at a tender age.
“We too were young when we made our mark on our country’s history, but we did not wait to be invited to step into the shoes of our leaders. The fight for the future of today’s youth is not going to start tomorrow. I am appealing to those who are much younger than us to take their future into their own hands, not by running away from the economic and political crisis but by joining the new struggle.”
Youths who spoke to the Financial Gazette last week admitted that they have a role to play in resolving the challenges facing the country.
“While I strongly believe that young Zimbabweans have a role in rebuilding Zimbabwe, I don’t think the responsibility to solve the country’s pressing issues such as a dying economy lies with them,” said Divine Dube, a Bulawayo-based Mandela Washington fellow.
Dube said Zimbabwe’s challenges were a result of bad governance by political leaders.
“Therefore, unless and until these people accept that they have failed and that they are presiding over a sinking ship, it will almost be difficult to help the situation without some form of civil disobedience,” he said.
Dube said while the younger generation has demonstrated capacity to lead, the current crop of leaders were unwilling to hand over leadership to them.
South African-based Kalanga language activist, Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo, said youths should start challenging the status quo.
“Youths must stand up and demand a coalition of forces among their various political groupings without regard to what their party leaders want and make it clear to them that they are fed up with personal interests that seem to override the national interests,” said Moyo.
But Sipho Nyoni said there was not much the youths could do to influence change in the country.
“Most of the youths do not readily identify with this country and its politics as they see a leadership that is ageing and does not want to relinquish power. Because they live in a society where most of their ideas are shot down, they then decide to relocate and go to countries where innovation is embraced and youths are driving economies,” he said.