The dilemma of young people in politics
Simply put, loyalty is a strong belief in an institution with an ordained conviction of what it represents and is built on. That conviction drives the congregant to be ready to lay down his life in defence of the institutional cause. Despite its demands of relinquishing betrayal, loyalty is only successful as a belief, it is upheld in rationality and objectivity.
Moreover, should the cause be in question or begin to lose trail, the loyals should start to question and exempt themselves from whatever does not reflect the ethos of what they were loyal to. Loyalty is all about institutions, not individuals. Should you be loyal to an individual you run the risk of being a puppet — surely a Giapetto creation, with strings attached. Individual behaviours shift and if one become loyal to an individual, not an institution, they are easy to dispose, that is the reason we see most of the former “glories” in youth politics looking very hungry in the streets — their loyalty was informed by the politics of the stomach.
One of the biggest hurdles in Zimbabwe today, apart from the historically entrenched economic paralysis and the overstated colonial legacy, is the failure of the youth to effectively define itself, its space and to remain in its stipulate definition. In the case of Zimbabwe, youths in political institutions are not informed by principles of good governance and proper political ethics, theirs is salivating for materialism even at the expense of its identity and the interests that it is supposed to be representing. In most political institutions, youth leaders assume the detective’s duties.
At one time, I churned a series which located youth in their attempt to reclaim their space, but I deliberately left out those who have found themselves in the cauldron of violence, being the machines of disciplining the political elders. Through selective intimidation, youth structures are used as a mechanism to discipline labelled rogue elements in any political setup, they are often discharged to conduct some witch hunting political orgies which in most cases do not even resemble their interests.
In particular, it is the militarist element, regrettably the most dominant feature of most political organisations that militate against democracy, places limits on youth empowerment and ultimately it provides a dubious justification for all that is done in the name of the youth structures.
We are regenerating a culture of embracing exploitation assuming its loyalty. We are keen to drench in sweat, chanting, trailing and celebrating hatred and animosity, as long as it benefits the shouting stomach we are fulfilled and ignore that we are nurturing a cycle of exploitation for political interests.
I am excited that young people have had the chance to have close contact with His Excellency through which he converses with the future of this nation. It is the Zanu-PF Youth League which has facilitated this interaction but I strongly believe that the Presidential Youth Interface traverses and stretches beyond partisanship, it is an open invitation to all young people to listen to once a youthful and intelligent man share his experiences and inspire the current crop of young leaders. A point to ponder, President R G Mugabe was one such young person who refused to be exploited in politics. His delay into politics was informed by his loyalty to the belief that one has to first comprehend dynamics of knowledge, control of power in the world and a strong conviction that there is a lot he has to know before he becomes vocal and embarrasses himself.
I think it was Plato’s philosophy which kept on reprimanding him from hopping into politics “Empty vessels make the loudest noise”. During his youthful days, the Chikeremas, and the Sitholes were the vanguards of the struggle, but soon were easily exploited and dispatched their loyalty to the institution, in any case, they were arguably not as intellectually acute like the young Robert then whom Colin Smith describes as a disciple of his own cause.
If we would ask His Excellency today on where our loyalty should lie, he would confidently tell us that “be loyal to the institution, be loyal to the republic and be loyal to the people who elect you. Do not confuse loyalty with exploitation.”