Wanted: An enlightened youth leadership

Subjective idealism would desire an educated, worldly enlightened youth demographic that is grounded enough to articulate the fundamental daily concerns relatable to the common citizenry.

Indeed, this does not mean that politics is an arena which must be exclusive of individuals of lesser educational or globe-trotting privilege; these must be perceived as higher level desirables for a nation hoping to progress within globalisation.

Fundamentally, desirable youth politicians can simply possess rationale clarity and social awareness.
While these aforementioned descriptions capture a large segment of the youth within and outside Zimbabwe, actual representation across provincial political structures lacks such resemblance.

One would be laboured to find educated and worldly enlightened youth in prominent political ranks.
The fundamental rationale clarity and social awareness are not typical trait in youth political representation either.

So, exactly what characterises youth political representation?
Unfortunately, youth politics in Zimbabwe resemble hierarchical structures mounted by aggressive turf lords, resource barons, and individuals who retain influence through patronage capital.

There is very little rationale clarity and social awareness, let alone the education and worldly enlightenment.

Many within the youth leadership struggle to articulate pragmatic solutions, craft policies and initiate empowerment programmes.

At the base of these hierarchical structures is an illusioned demographic impressionable to the cultural vices and ill-conduct that has resulted in the ascendance of their preceding youth leadership.

As such, instead of vibrant, intellectually curious youths, youth political structures thrive on retaining a youth base that simply regurgitates hard-line partisan sloganeering, engaging very little rational clarity or social awareness.

Many people of superficial observance would rush to associate these structures with Zanu-PF alone; the consequence of insincere political gamesmanship in Zimbabwe.

Similar, if not worse, vices exist in the multiple MDCs and are fast-emerging in Zimbabwe People First. Similar kinds of youths across opposition parties thrive as alluded to by unfortunate transgressions exhibited by Elton Mangoma loyalists towards incumbent opponents.

Thus, this subject cannot be contextualised along party narratives. It would be best engaged across the entire spectrum of our country’s national politics.

A common trait in many youth matters is the impulse of placing blame on elders.
Concededly, much of the cultural grooming that reflects in youth politics does get its influence from older practices.

The current political cycle has seen little traction in socio-economic imperatives due to cumulative years of cultural vices retained our political elite — often phrased as factionalism. What is playing out today is the consequence of institutional turf lords, regulatory barons and individuals who have retained influence through patronage capital.

There is very little clarity and social awareness, let alone the education and worldly enlightenment.
Indeed when such entities come to a head, resolutions can only be found though political underhandedness, incumbent sabotage and vile posturing as the political climate of the day.

So sure, the older politicians can be apportioned blame for the traits inherited by the youth. However, ultimate responsibility resides in the youths themselves.

Any generation that hints at a readiness to fulfil its nation’s progressive destiny must be judged on its own capacity for self-actualisation.

The potential of a youth generation cannot be constrained by certain flaws of older generations.
As such, perhaps it would be wise for the eager youth generation to start identifying desirable political representation.

Worryingly, within the youth themselves certain divisive perceptions are already prominent.
For instance, there is a dismissive perception that youth identified by global initiatives are susceptible to foreign misguidance hence they should be distanced from local politics, let alone representation.

Granted, all national interests, including foreign, are driven by a self-centred sentiment towards mercantilism; but the insecurities retained in Zimbabwe are largely the result of an internal failure to uphold the clarity and sanctity of our own national ideology, and its consistent intellectual superiority.

This is why we retain paranoia that youth involved in Global Shapers programmes by the World Economic Forum, for instance, cannot be afforded audience in local politics.

Indeed this is why foreign-educated youth face many barriers when trying to enter local politics.
So how then do we extract and benefit from worldly enlightenment when our structures remain cagey and suspicious of external exposure?

Youth in Zimbabwe often misinform itself that politics “dzinoda vanhu vane mbabvu”, or people with the mettle to play the hardball mudslinging that characterises our political arena.

Many up and coming youth politicians have failed to sustain any electorate persuasion from their peers on that very unfortunate premise that they are perceived as weak personalities.

Regrettably, youths have acquired a preference for the politician of combative and confrontational demeanour without little regard to intellectual and technical expertise needed for socio-economic advancement.

It is fashionable to speak of Zimbabwe as an emerging youth economy; one that is positioning itself for young politicians to drive technocratic implementation that will make Zimbabwe realise sustainable socio-economic transformation and empowerment.

However, it is less appealing to acknowledge the dearth of the ideal representation needed for such a task: an educated, patriotic and enlightened youth with firm rational clarity and social awareness.

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