Intergenerational Bargaining: War Vets, Youth and the Role of Civil Society Post Mugabe Era

The role of the war veterans in the current developments propelled towards the ouster of Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe after a 37 year marathon rule have become explicitly clear and visible.

This however, has been received with acclamation, with the young and the old getting excited by the developments and supporting anyone who speaks the language of unity against Mugabe.

The solidarity march organized by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association with the support of other stakeholders among them youth and political parties stood as a clear testimony that Zimbabweans are a united nation that has been for long divided due to a mirage of challenges that the country is currently facing. The excitement and kind of celebrations from Zimbabweans from diverse social stratus is a clear testimony of a generation that has been in subjugation and thriving for freedom. These celebrations however will only yield fruition if the lives of the general Zimbabweans return to normal and the basic fundamentals are restored. For health, education, unemployment and the economy to be fixed there is need for a lot of work that require commitment, resources and expertise guided by a strong moral and ethical framework in curbing corruption and malpractice.

How far will this unity go?

Much of applause should be thrown towards the unity, peace and purpose that Zimbabweans are demonstrating as they shape their own destiny. The military, war veterans, the youth, political parties, churches, traditional leaders and others have weighed their weight towards inclusive effort in rebuilding Zimbabwe. One big question that Zimbabweans particularly young people should be asking themselves is “ How long will this union last and under what terms?” especially looking at the needs of young people in addressing issues such as youth unemployment, poverty, lack of health and the degenerating rule of law. After uniting against Mugabe, What’s next?

The role of young people

The role of young people in the struggle against the Zanu PF administration has been visible since time immemorial. This fight has been orchestrated by various social groups who have expressed displeasure with the way that President Mugabe has been executing his duties, failing to get rid of corrupt officials, looking on as the economy collapse and spending millions of dollars on his family and political rallies, birthdays meant sorely to consolidate his fading power. Youth are undoubtedly the dominant and energetic demographic group that has not had any chance to display its capacity to contribute towards national development. With the current environment paralysing any hope of employment, the capacity of young people has gone untapped into the broader policy and governance operations of the country. The fragmentations and difference among young people’s leadership in politics, civil society and other social sections stand as an obstacle towards a collective position towards a transition from the Mugabe era. Without a clear strategy, young people might be the losing lot considering their current positioning and role in the current uprisings against Mugabe and his close allies.

Premature celebrations?

It is very evident that Zimbabweans are agreeing on one thing, which is the fact that they should be change in some way particularly change in leadership. This popular notion depicts the generality of Zimbabweans’ wishes to see the country developing and moving forward. One grey area is whether its worthy celebrating considering that little has changed so far apart from the strong challenge posed against President Mugabe. More so, the current developments, which were originally plotted by the military, somehow give little room to the young generation and the broader Zimbabwean citizenry. One common driving force currently prevailing is the need to effect change upon the people of Zimbabwe, towards which direction?...that is somehow not yet visible and clear. Some might however argue that whoever comes after President Mugabe will never go to the extent of further destroying the country as has been recently happening.

The role of Civil Society in the Current Developments

Zimbabwe’s civil society, which is supposed to be guiding the people and occupying civic space, has become mere spectators rather than drivers of change and informers of the people. The non-existent of a clear strategy on the part of civil society is working against its relevance and contribution to the development discourse of the nation. Apart from the excitement and free citizen’s expression to the current developments, little is visible on the part of civil society, which to some extent compromises their bargaining power towards how the country should be run post Mugabe. Civil society has a huge following, with both national organizations and community based organizations commanding influence within the communities they operate in. Current events thus, are a clear opportunity which every development entity cannot afford it to vanish untapped including civic society.




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