In 2017, the world saw what the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe were, as people of all ages, colors and creeds marched in support of the removal of Robert Mugabe who, to many, was a symbol of tyranny. Two years later, after the bloodless military-assisted transition that ushered in the leadership of Mnangagwa, the majority of youth (who constitute 67% of the population) have learnt that not all change is positive; as the country continues to slide into a military state that is being controlled by a few securocrats. For young people who dreamt of a better country with freedom that could be enjoyed, better education facilities, good health facilities, and better job opportunities, it seems that hope has faded. For Zimbabwe to return to the path of democracy and prosperity, young people must take the lead in demanding the change that they envision so that their dreams become real.
A government that ruins the health sector through embezzlement of funds is not only denying its people health services, but it is also stealing the future of the young people. When a government that is expected to protect its people uses brutal force to quash dissent, they are putting a burden on the future of its citizen. When young people can’t get decent employment, the government is also killing the future of the children, youth and the elderly. To secure a brighter and a prosperous future, young people must escalate against bad governance.
History shows that when young people take a lead in demanding change, it is more likely to occur. From the youth-led revolution in Khartoum to youth activists in Malawi standing up in defending their vote in 2019, young people are shaping their future. In his autobiography “The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House,” Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter Ben Rhodes explains that the Obama administration was able to bring change to the world because of the young people who worked with him. Having joined the White House at 29 years of age in 2009, Rhodes himself took charge of the Cuba-America talks that led to the removal of sanctions.
Today, I urge young people to take the lead in demanding for good governance, accountability, transparency, and a return to constitutionalism. We can find inspiration in the other intelligent and courageous young people who are taking the lead in demanding for a free Zimbabwe. For example, Namatai Kwekweza has been stronger even after a couple of arrests and detentions, and she is still demanding the government drop the proposed constitutional amendment number two. Thandekile Moyo is using the pen and paper to expose mis-governance through articles that are being published in some of the widely read newspapers across the region. These examples remind all of us that no action is too small or too big for change to happen.
The late John Lewis, was inspired by Dr Martin Luther king Jr and others to get into what he call good trouble, necessary trouble, we too can get some inspiration in his words.
If young people fail to rise up and demand change, never expect the old generation to guarantee you change. Let’s start acting for our future; nobody else will make the first move. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. But to transform everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together. People have risen up before to demand action and make change; if we do so in numbers we have a chance. If we care, we must do more than say we do.
Source: Kubatana member, via email