Zimbabwe’s protracted and hard-fought liberation struggle was for majority rule in the country, with the hope that this would ensure the adequate and fair distribution of wealth and opportunities for all.
By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
However, what was achieved in 1980 was just but a fraction of the majority rule process – it was not a once-off event.
Majority rule means that the management of a country is in the hands of the majority of its population.
Indeed in terms of race, Black people are the majority – and that was the majority rule achieved in 1980 – however, there are still other demographics to consider beyond race.
According to the 2012 census, 77% of Zimbabwe’s population comprises of those under the age of 35 years – clearly making this age group the majority.
As such, does it not make sense that based on the avowed principle of majority rule, the youth should be the ones managing the affairs of the nation?
This need has never been more critical than now, when the youth are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, as they have for far too long been conveniently ignored by the powers-that-be – whom themselves are amassing the wealth of the country’s resources for self-aggrandisement.
The youth, despite being 77% of country’s population, have a dependency ration of 68.1 – something that is embarrassing and shameful for a county as Zimbabwe that is endowed with magnificent resources.
The youth are at the prime of their lives and the most energetic, vibrant, and innovative demographic group in our population, and have to adequately benefit from the country’s resources.
Most of the youth are disadvantaged as from school, as they are denied a decent education – or any education at all – due to the prohibitive fees that their parents can not afford.
In addition to this, the youth enter a world that does not afford them an opportunity to make a decent livelihood – no matter how educated they are.
They are subjected to an uncaring nation with an uncaring leadership, that would rather enrich itself than to provide the youth with opportunities to be wealthy as well.
The youth have been striped of all dignity and hope – having been reduced to beggars in their own motherland.
A country with a potential for opportunities would at least provide these to a group that has the future ahead of them.
This is a group that is planning to start a life of their own, buying a house, getting married, having children, sending them to school, and making investments for their families’ futures, and yet they find themselves trapped in a cycle of hopelessness and despair.
No wonder quite a number of them end up hiding away from this anguish in drugs and alcohol – but there is always hope.
Hope will only come when the youth finally take charge of their own destiny by taking charge of the nation’s destiny.
Just as in colonial days, there was no point in the Black majority waiting for emancipation and development to be delivered to them by the minority regime.
They had to wring majority rule from the colonisers through a protracted liberation struggle.
However, this time the youth do not need to use bazookas and LMGs, but through democratic and vigorous campaigns, they can also attain majority rule in Zimbabwe – because those in power and selfishly benefiting from the country’s wealth will never deliver it on a silver platter.
The youth have to demand real majority rule in Zimbabwe by actively participating in the politics of the country.
Waiting around for someone to do it for them has never, and will never, work.
They do not need a ministry of youth development to represent the interests of the majority – as that would be no different from the Black majority expecting their concerns to be adequately met by the colonial ministry of native (African) affairs.
The Black majority did not need a ministry of native (African) affairs to uplift their standards of life in the colonial era, but needed complete majority rule.
Similarly, the youth today do not need a ministry of youth development for their socio-economic upliftment, but complete majority rule.
They do not have to demand a measly 40% stake in the affairs of the nation, just as the Black majority never settled for a 40% stake in Zimbabwe at the Lancaster House conference.
However, for this to become a reality, the youth themselves need to register to vote en mass.
Although there are no reliable statistics from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on the number of registered youth, the 2013 figures show that only 8.87% of 18 to 19 year olds were registered; 19.55% for 20 to 24 year olds, and 51.69% of 25 to 29 year olds.
Above that, the figures by ZEC become obscenely inaccurate, with instances of 106.12% and 133.31% – how can there be more people registering to vote than the population!
Anyway, that is another story for another day.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the number of youth who are registered to vote are very low, and if they have to have any hope of changing the status quo they need to register.
To make matters worse, according to a survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute conducted in 2015 on behalf of the Election Resources Centre, showed that only 28% of 18 to 25 year olds were interested in politics, and 38% of those between 26 and 35 year old.
The youth now have to take charge of their lives and decide if they genuinely desire to move from being recipients of charity from this country’s leadership or be masters of their own destinies.
This entails fully taking part in politics and taking charge of the government in democratic elections – only then can they fully benefit from the county’s vast resources.