Lo­cat­ing the mean­ing of gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus

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WEL­COME to 2019, a year whose prospects are re­turns of aus­ter­ity mea­sures. Also, this is a year which is go­ing to re­de­fine MDC Al­liance whose own cre­ation — “gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus”, mis­rep­re­sented as it is, will prey on the party and the “vet­er­ans” who con­ve­niently sup­ported it in Fe­bru­ary 2018 (I will write an ar­ti­cle on this to­wards their elec­tive con­fer­ence).

To be­gin this year, I re­flect on 2018 where a dis­course, so prom­i­nent, whose the­o­ret­i­cal pro­vi­sions are plau­si­ble, but its mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion by MDC-A presents dire con­se­quences both for their party and the na­tion. I ar­gue con­tex­tu­ally, not the­o­ret­i­cally.

Re­flec­tions on GC’s (in) con­ve­nience

Pay at­ten­tion to the con­text: The year 2018 wit­nessed a grow­ing de­bate on top­i­cal so­cial po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues among them, the com­pet­i­tively defin­ing of: “what does the gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus (GC) mean” par­tic­u­larly for both Zim­babwe and the Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change. My in­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis on GC con­sis­tently views it as an es­sen­tial­ist nar­ra­tive whose sour prod­ucts can be read from the grow­ing dis­con­tent­ment of those who sup­ported Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai but cur­rently have ir­rec­on­cil­able differences with MDC-A led by a young Nel­son Chamisa with ad­vi­sory from his blue-eyed-boys. In this con­tri­bu­tion I prob­lema­tise the use of es­sen­tial­ist nar­ra­tives by young peo­ple, specif­i­cally in a post colo­nial so­ci­ety which is re­cov­er­ing from the di­vi­sive colo­nial machi­na­tions. I ar­gue that in as much as iden­tity pol­i­tics play a cru­cial role in meet­ing de­cen­tralised de­vel­op­men­tal goals, if used for the wrong rea­sons by the wrong peo­ple, it can be a night­mare to both na­tion build­ing and na­tional devel­op­ment.

This is the same dis­course that has in­cul­cated a cul­ture of in­tol­er­ance in the minds of many youths in the op­po­si­tion, a case best de­fined as the pol­i­tics of en­ti­tle­ment i.e. (if it’s not us it’s against us) as if par­tic­i­pa­tion in governance is lim­ited to age or po­lit­i­cal par­ties. I main­tain that there is no re­la­tion­ship be­tween youth em­pow­er­ment and this “gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus”; in­stead I con­clude that it was just a cam­paign swin­dle for Mr Chamisa who was once ac­cused of be­hav­ing like a 60-yearold in a young body by one prom­i­nent “Dr.” of a think tank or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Death at a funeral

The con­text: Democ­racy died at Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai’s funeral. Ra­tio­nal­ity passed too. It is shock­ing that this same fig­ure that was din­ing with the so called old guard of MDC-A could sud­denly wake up on the 15th of Fe­bru­ary 2018 as an author­ity on what is good for the youth if not what is good for Zim­babwe. It is with­out a doubt that there is more to this “gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus”.

In the 2018 har­monised elec­tions there was a lot of rant­ing specif­i­cally from the G40-like MDC Al­liance.

The noise specif­i­cally ques­tioned the le­git­i­macy of youth em­pow­er­ment if the Repub­lic is not led by a youth pres­i­dent.

Very lit­tle was in­vested in ar­tic­u­lat­ing the mean­ing and im­pli­ca­tions of this state­ment. The un­ques­tion­ing youths who were us­ing their stom­achs as a guide­line for po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion thronged the streets of “Harare” an­gry, call­ing for the un­demo­cratic in­stal­la­tion of Mr Chamisa who is al­legedly the best thing to hap­pen to the so called “Youths in Harare”.

Lest we for­get, this is the same party not so long ago which was chant­ing “Save chete chete”, it is the same party which made ev­ery­one be­lieve that Zim­babwe’s solution rests in the elec­tion of a 60+ year old Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai (MHSRP). Just a day af­ter his pass­ing, they sud­denly erased the pos­si­bil­ity of youth em­pow­er­ment out­side the “youth pres­i­dent” bracket as if they were not the ones who had en­dorsed the 60+-year-old Mor­gan.

For the sake of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency, the anti­estab­lish­ment aca­demics de­lib­er­ately ig­nored the pit­falls of this night­mare called the gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus, even the se­nior op­po­si­tion politi­cians ig­nored it de­lib­er­ately as­sum­ing that if their plot of de­fraud­ing the un­sus­pect­ing masses suc­ceeds, they will be roped into Govern­ment to share the spoils of a fraud­u­lently ac­quired po­lit­i­cal for­tune. Lit­tle did they fore­see how Nel­son is sur­round­ing him­self with those who con­trol young peo­ple in all MDC-A’s con­stituen­cies.

For Mudzuri, Mwon­zora, Hwende, Thabitha and many whose age is only a re­serve for Se­nate, an elec­tive con­fer­ence that will oust them us­ing “gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus” was far from thought.

Be­cause a ma­jor­ity of Zim­bab­weans are in­tel­li­gent, they saw through this façade gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus, an agree­ment be­tween Mr Chamisa, the van­guard and the Zi­nasu “boys” (Take NOTE of “boys”, it will emerge later in the year as the con­ver­sa­tion pro­gresses).

The Chamisa, Van­guard and Zi­nasu fac­tor Con­tex­tual mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions: Firstly it is wrong for these three ac­tors to as­sume that they have the monopoly of dis­cre­tion over what is good for the youth. The Zim­bab­wean youth in their di­ver­sity have never at any point in­stalled these three to speak on their be­half, in any case, the as­sump­tion that what is good for these three is good for the na­tion is a patently false claim in as much as the di­verse in­ter­ests of the Zim­bab­wean youths are con­cerned. The as­sump­tion that youths are best em­pow­ered when there is a “youthie” pres­i­dent is a lie. Rel­a­tively, the as­sump­tion that youths are dis­em­pow­ered when there is no youth pres­i­dent is even a big­ger lie. There is noth­ing wrong with hav­ing a youth pres­i­dent; how­ever, there is ev­ery­thing wrong when you try to black­mail the youth into un­crit­i­cally elect­ing a power hun­gry in­di­vid­ual on the ba­sis that he is a youth. It is equally wrong to as­sume that devel­op­ment only comes with the mere elec­tion of a youth. Devel­op­ment is an out­come of good poli­cies, not age.

In its nor­ma­tiv­ity, this dis­course has con­structed a pseudo sense of ex­clu­sion in the un­ques­tion­ing minds of Zim­babwe’s op­po­si­tion youths. It has falsely framed the loss of Mr Chamisa as a loss for the youths in gen­eral, an as­sump­tion which is def­i­nitely false in as much as youth af­fairs are con­cerned.

In any case these three should have at least done a re­search to de­ter­mine the va­lid­ity or the in­va­lid­ity of this gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus. Let me of­fer ev­i­dence to these three “im­por­tant” op­po­si­tion ac­tors. The United King­dom is led by Theresa May who is not a youth, this does not im­ply that English youths are dis­em­pow­ered, nei­ther does it mean English men are dis­em­pow­ered. Fur­ther­more, this ar­range­ment has not sus­pended devel­op­ment in the United King­dom. Equally the big­gest economies in the world for ex­am­ple the Unites States of Amer­ica and China, are led by non-youth pres­i­dents, this has not in any way spelt that youths in those coun­tries are dis­em­pow­ered. Even our neigh­bour­ing South Africa is led by Cde Ramaphosa who is not a youth. What this teaches us is that the “gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus” is just an elec­toral gim­mick; it was never some­thing to be taken seriously. It also teaches us that the dog­ma­ti­sa­tion of the youth is­sue is a lie; it is not eth­i­cal to go around telling peo­ple that devel­op­ment can only come if a youth pres­i­dent is in­stalled while ig­nor­ing the phe­nom­e­nal sci­en­tific ev­i­dence prov­ing oth­er­wise.

Dear reader, take note that this con­tri­bu­tion does not say youths can­not bring devel­op­ment, it is just a re­sponse to the ex­ist­ing dis­course on gen­er­a­tional iden­ti­ties in Zim­babwe. I put it to you that the dis­course is a lie ped­dled by Mr Chamisa and crew in their at­tempt to fraud­u­lently hi­jack party power.

In fact, the gen­er­a­tional con­sen­sus was/ is just Mr Chamisa’s cam­paign trick against his im­me­di­ate ri­vals who were then Eng Mudzuri and a fe­male Thokozani Khupe whose mis­for­tune was of her gen­der ex­pres­sion and iden­tity. It was just a di­vi­sive tool meant to di­vide MDC-A and Zim­babwe at large to ben­e­fit Mr Chamisa’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

Pham­bili ngeZim­babwe!

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