RECENT suggestions by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo that youths will decide the outcome of the much-anticipated 2018 elections is an inadvertent admission that President Robert Mugabe and his party’s end is nigh, analysts say.
In a tweet last week, Moyo, a member of Mugabe’s Zanu PF politburo submitted that “As a DEMOGRAPHIC group, G40 is a political majority that will decide the 2018 election & provide future leadership!”
While Moyo’s counsel could be interpreted to mean that he was referring to the G40 as a Zanu PF factional grouping locked in a succession battle with another faction backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday concurred with the ruling party bigwig that indeed, the youths will be a decisive factor in 2018.
The analysts however, said Moyo could be mistaken in thinking that the G40 demographic group would vote to keep Zanu PF in power because the ruling party’s policies did not resonate with the youth who are at the receiving end of Mugabe’s policies that have seen massive unemployment estimated at over 80 percent.
University of London-based professor of world politics Steven Chan said the youths were not happy with the dearth of modern plans for the future both in possible successors to Mugabe -— his wife Grace and Mnangagwa as well as opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“In fact, he is right to expect a reaction against the gerontocratic, backwards-looking politics of (the late) Mugabe-era.
“Those who will be 40 in 2018 were two years old at independence, and are dismayed at the lack of modern plans for the future,” Chan said.
“However, neither Tsvangirai nor Mnangagwa, nor even Grace, is any longer part of this younger generation. All are part of a power struggle. But it is Zanu PF who retains the greatest amount of power, so the succession becomes extremely important within Zanu PF.
“But whoever wins the struggle, if he or she cannot speak the language of the young, and only looks backwards, there will be no hope for those who are 40”.
The analysts also observed that the bulk of young people born just before and soon after Independence grew up in an environment dominated by Zanu PF whose policies caused so many problems, including marginalisation of the youth and regions like Matabeleland.
Academic and publisher Ibbo Mandaza for example said Moyo’s observation was a wake-up call for the ruling party as the writing is already on the wall for Zanu PF with the current wave of anti-Mugabe protests sweeping across the country.
Mandaza said Mugabe’s policies, especially the Indigenisation Act, did not provide a link between growth and human development.
He added that the policies had led to pattern of growth without expanding employment opportunities, leading to increasing inequality and poverty as well as voiceless growth where democracy is not nurtured while resources needed by future generations were being squandered by the ruling elite.
He said young people, who constitute the biggest section of not only Zimbabwe’s but almost all countries’ population, are neither participants in the economy nor beneficiaries of the proceeds of the growth.
“Instead youth unemployment, poverty and inequality have replaced opportunity, hope and faith in government hence the current explosion of popular discontent by groups such as Tajamuka and #ThisFlag and very few, if any, will vote Zanu PF. So Moyo is inadvertently admitting that Zanu PF has lost it,” Mandaza said.
While young people are the majority of the marginalised, unemployed and prone to political manipulation — Zanu PF, Mandaza said, has failed to appreciate the reality that economic growth and indigenisation in isolation would not necessarily translate into progress.
“Indigenisation must be linked to economic growth and translated into productive-employment growth, which is a key nexus between growth and poverty reduction.
“That is the why the idea of grabbing 51 percent of foreign-owned companies, and coming up with community trusts without linking that to the mainstream economy will not enhance their chances of winning elections in 2018.”
On the other hand however, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure argued that 2018 elections will not necessarily be about who has sound policies but “who can distribute booty to the unemployed youths”.
Masunungure said in that case, it would be Zanu PF and Mugabe who would benefit in the 2018 elections.
“In terms of electoral politics, Moyo’s assessment is accurate and one that should be taken seriously. I, however, do not think that policies matter.
“The issue is who can organise patronage targeting the youths, by far the largest single demographic group,” Masunungure opined.
“Zanu PF is already distributing the patronage cake in urban areas through residential stands to youths and women and they will do so for the next two years.
“Strategy, at the end of the day will make the difference between electoral success and failure and that is why I doubt that the next election will be about policy”. daily news