EDITORIAL COMMENT: Million-man march misplaced

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Million-man march misplaced | The Financial Gazette May 19, 2016

NEXT Wednesday, on Africa Day, ZANU-PF will be holding a million-man march in the capital city, Harare.
According to the party’s deputy secretary for youth affairs, Kudzanai Chipanga, the purpose of this march is to reaffirm the loyalty of the youth league to President Robert Mugabe.
The march is expected to bring together one million ruling party cadres from the country’s 10 provinces.
War veterans, who had earlier on refused to be part of the May 25 march, have now capitulated.
They now claim they will be joining the march in order to provide ideological direction to the youth league programme.
Media reports say the war vets have been arm-twisted into reviewing their earlier stance.
From where we stand, there is nothing wrong with citizens exercising their democratic right to march and express their views.
ZANU-PF cadres, like all Zimbabwean citizens, have the right to express themselves through peaceful demonstrations as provided for in our national Constitution.
However, it is the purpose of this march which is both questionable and disheartening. Surely, there are more pertinent issues for the country’s youth today.
The country is buckling under the pressure of a myriad of socio-economic challenges. Unemployment, hunger, rampant corruption, company closures and a worsening liquidity crisis are some of the challenges facing Zimbabweans today.
The youth, representing 70 percent of the country’s population, have been the biggest casualties of the current crises.
The rate of unemployment in the country is unprecedented at over 80 percent. Statistics show that more than 6 000 companies have shut down and at least 300 000 workers have lost their jobs since 2013, making it virtually impossible for young school leavers and college graduates to get jobs.
Yet the ruling party, through its 2013 election campaign manifesto, promised to create 2,2 million jobs for the young people.
We would have expected the youth league to be demanding the promised jobs for its members.
The World Food Programme indicates that three million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid. Millions of United States dollars will be required for the million-man march whose purpose is merely to reaffirm loyalty to President Mugabe.
This money could be better used to mobilise food aid for the three million starving Zimbabweans or to fund start-up loans for the unemployed youths to engage in income-generating businesses.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realise that the country’s hungry and unemployed youths have nothing to gain from this choreographed display of loyalty. The distressed youths are certainly not interested in this pointless charade of endorsing a sitting President. Instead, the country’s young people need jobs and food on the table.
It is clear that Chipanga and his colleagues in the youth league leadership are not speaking on behalf of the country’s young people.
The ZANU PF youth league leadership needs to introspect and reconnect with its constituency. As things stand, the million-man march is a misplaced priority.

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