Albert Einstein is arguably the most influential person of the 20th century and left behind an indelible mark on the sand of time.
At the age of 76 his abdominal aortic aneurysm burst, leading to internal bleeding and severe pain. Even though the doctors recommended it, Einstein refused surgery. This is what he said, “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it’s time to go. I will do it elegantly.”
After doing all he did, after all his monumental contributions to science, Albert Einstein knew that the best thing to do when it’s time to go is going. One wise person once said that a good dancer is one who knows when to leave the stage. Sadly, very few in Africa understand the wisdom carried in that statement.
Isn’t it unfortunate that at times those who purport to be change agents resist change when it’s convenient for them. Our dilemma is that most public officials enter into politics from the standpoint of it being a source of livelihood rather than with the intention to serve.
Youths constitute 67% of Zimbabwe’s population. According to Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba, 60% of the registered 5.3 million voters for this year’s polls are aged between 18 to 40.
What can never be disputed is the fact that the decider of this forthcoming election is going to be the youth vote. Youths cannot be side-lined or disregarded anymore. Gone are the days when youths are relegated and confined to throwing stones during protests.
Many young people have been in the political trenches for a long time and they have developed their efficacies for such a time as this. It’s their time and they can’t be denied. Trying to stand in their way can only lead to detrimental repercussions.
The mushrooming of many independent candidates is a clear sign of the times and how the young people have embraced the spirit and notion that it’s their time. There is an unprecedented generational consensus converging on the reality that indeed this is an election for the youths. This election will be one with the most independent candidates running for office since 1980.
On one hand, established political formations are not doing much to harvest this talent. It’s chiefly a result of entitlement and the fear of losing out to better talent. On the other hand, the prospects of the majority of independent candidates winning are very slim that’s despite the fact that their motivation is not necessarily misplaced.
Like it or not, Zimbabweans vote on partisan lines and so no matter how brilliant one’s manifesto is, it’s not going to be easy to make headway outside a party structure. I am not referring to just any of the numerous frivolous political parties, I am referring to those that win elections and it’s no-brainer which ones they are.
This doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. It can be done. Individuals like Hon. Temba Mliswa have done it before albeit under a different set of dynamics. I have seen one or two independent candidates who have done good work thus far to win an election and I wish them all the best.
Of course, the youth vote will influence the result of this election but it is important to note that they don’t just want to vote. They are also eager and prepared to run for office at various levels. Any person or organisation that understands and acts on this aspect does not only enhance the chances of exploiting the demographic dividends of this reality but they will be on the right side of history.
During an interview on StarFm, Hon. Eddie Cross said, “I am stepping down because I have served my 10 years and I am now passing the baton onto someone young and fresh.” Many youths, including myself have been and are still waiting to hear these words from some office bearers.
Hon. Cross understood that there is nothing that can stop an idea whose time has come. His wisdom must not only be commented on, some office bearers must follow his example especially those who stand for democracy. When the MDC Alliance in particular announces its candidates, it will be a critical marker in ascertaining whether we are moving forward or not.
We need leaders who are not selfish and it’s time for some to graciously pass on the baton to young people. Every door represents two things – entrance and exit. That’s the matrix of a door. It’s used to enter and simultaneously to exit.
The matrix does not end at entrance, it ends at exit.
Patson Dzamara is a leadership coach, author and politician based in Zimbabwe.