Monday July 17 2017

Headache of a long ruling chief and young lot that goes for crumbs

President Robert Mugabe take

President Robert Mugabe takes a tumble on the red carpet 

By Moses Odokonyero

At 93, unbelievable as it sounds, Robert Mugabe who has been in power since 1980 is still soldiering on to continue as Zimbabwe ruler.
Old people, even when as old as Mugabe, can still be productive, but not if their job is managing a country with multiple challenges, including dreadful youth unemployment figures.


Sellers of Mugabe’s continuity are pitching the nonagenarian as tasty whisky. “Do you want five-year-old whiskey or 20-year-old whiskey?” asked 45-year-old Supa Mandiwanzira, a Zimbabwe Cabinet minister, the international news agency Reuters, reported last week.


‘‘Mugabe is whiskey of the highest quality, that’s the whiskey we want. It’s tasty, it gives us wisdom, it’s mature,” continued Mandiwanzira. Sounds like Arua’s Ibrahim Abiriga?
The youth leader of ZANU-PF, the ruling party, Kudzai Chipanga, stretched higher to the heavens comparing Mugabe to an angel.


“Here on earth, there is an angel called Robert Gabriel Mugabe. When you people go to heaven, don’t be surprised to see Robert Gabriel Mugabe standing next to God helping vet those who should enter heaven,” said Kudzai Chipanga, according to Reuters.


Uganda is not Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is not Uganda.
Equally, Museveni is not Mugabe and Mugabe is not Museveni.
Museveni is much younger, of course, but based on the trajectories of his past movements and his now much-talked about plot to delete Article 102 from the Constitution to leave it open for him to stand for presidency for as many times as he wishes, Museveni is clearly cruising at a decent speed to destination Mugabe.


The headache of what Museveni should do with himself past his current term and what Uganda should do with him is constitutionally clear, but every commentator worth their salt, knows it’s a conundrum.


Daniel Kalinaki’s ‘On Bobi Wine’s parliamentary seat race and why we are the ones we have been waiting for’ (Daily Monitor, June 29), examined the state of the young in this conundrum.


Kalinaki questioned why with their majority, the youth in Uganda don’t have a party to push their agenda in national affairs; why they elect incompetent and corrupt leaders.


The youth of today are not as ideologically charged and conscious as the young of the long gone Museveni youth. The Musevenis grew up in the Cold War age of ideological contestation.


Today’s, thanks partly to Museveni, have grown, are growing in the age of consumption, the Internet, digital communication and fat dreams about the fast world of neon lights. The Internet is where they explode. It is their bush. Besides guns and the bush, the Musevenis had considerably fewer options to diffuse their frustrations.
The ideological insufficiency that comes with being born and bred in the age of the Internet, gossip, sleaze and big talk is that it makes the young go for quick crumbs and not the real beef. Museveni knows this and exploits it.


The most vibrant youth political organisation in the Museveni era used to be Democratic Party’s youth wing - Uganda Young Democrats. Some of its leaders such as Joseph Luzige long crossed to NRM. Uganda Peoples Congress’ former youth firebrand Eric Sakwa is now busy eating crumbs as deputy Resident District Commissioner somewhere.
Kalinaki’s young - those he describes as ‘verbose keyboard warriors’, who have turned ‘abuse into a national art’ are also disconnected from their gaunt sachet Waragi drinking mates in the villages (occasional recipients of sacks of presidential money).


The youth- rich and poor, educated and uneducated need to connect and have a unifying goal based on a firm ideological grounding that goes beyond quick eating.
If not, the greedy old will continue to block their road to the future for the sake of maintaining old privilege and security.

Mr Odokonyero has interests in media development, communication and public affairs.
modokonyero@gmail.com

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