Sunday, March 05, 2017

ZANU-PF Youth League: ‘Our Only Opposition Is the Economy’
March 4, 2017

Cde Chipanga . . . “My humble advice to youths who want to be in real politics, is they must join zanu-pf. It is the only home-grown political party, the only party that brought independence, the only party which cares for the black citizens”

At the 21st February Movement celebrations last week, zanu-pf Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Kudzanai Chipanga gave a speech in which, among other things, he encouraged the need for technocrats in Government to spearhead economic development. The Herald’s Christopher Charamba (CC) spoke with Cde Chipanga (KC) to find out how the celebrations in Matopos went, what else the Youth League has in store for the year 2017 and how they intend to lobby for youth development.

CC: Zanu-PF and the nation recently held the 21st February Movement celebrations in Mapotos, a celebration of President Mugabe’s birthday. As Secretary for Youth in the party, you gave a speech at this occasion. Could you highlight some of the key points you mentioned particularly relating to the youths?
KC: In my speech the main agenda was to congratulate President Robert Gabriel Mugabe for attaining 93 years and to celebrate his life as our leader not only as Zanu-PF but as a Zimbabwean and continental leader. That was our main thrust as the Youth League for holding the 21st February Movement celebrations.

CC: But in your speech you mentioned other things, for example, the need for more technocrats in Government rather than politicians. Could you expand on what it was you meant by that position and perhaps give examples of the kind of technocrats and how they could be incorporated?
KC: It is our feeling as young people we no longer have any opposition party to talk about here in Zimbabwe, our main opposition is now the economy. So while we appreciate efforts being made by the Government to address the economy, we also feel enough is not being done from the Cabinet point of view.

Yes, we understand that His Excellency chairs the Cabinet but at the same time we appreciate that His Excellency has appointed ministers who are responsible for certain economic portfolios, people who are in charge of these economic ministries on a day- to-day basis. We feel that those ministers are not doing enough.

CC: So how best would you tackle this situation now that you have said these ministers are not doing enough and are there any specific ministers you would like to point out and in what ways would you suggest they improve?
KC: The issue here is not about personal vendettas. It’s not a personal problem, it’s a national problem which we are facing, that of trying to revive our economy. Being led by a visionary leader in President Mugabe we now need supporting staff because the visionary leader is already there in the position of President.

The challenge we are now realising is that the supporting staff is not putting a lot of effort as far as their portfolios and responsibilities are concerned. For instance, we have ministers who are in charge of economic ministries but these same ministers are Members of Parliament, they are also politicians, they are farmers and they are family men.

We end up having a situation whereby they have divided attention. This issue of the economy we feel needs total commitment because we take it as a war against our country. As you know, Zimbabwe is under sanctions which were imposed on us by the West, it’s a war on its own.

So we feel that we need soldiers who will fight this war on a full-time basis. They don’t need to fight it on a part-time basis. Hence we feel that we need heads of those economic clusters who will put in effort on a full-time basis.

The current crop of our leaders, some of them, majority of them, if not all of them are Members of Parliament. They are expected to service their constituencies. They are farmers and expected to service their farms. They are employers who are expected to service their companies. Those are three important duties or jobs which need full commitment.

We then wonder when they will have time, according to their itinerary, to fully concentrate on the issue of reviving the economy.

CC: Just going back to the 21st February Movement celebrations, there are some pictures that surfaced on social media of purported Zanu-PF youths sleeping on desks. They said they travelled down to Bulawayo and they were forced to sleep in classrooms on desks when they were promised proper accommodation. They also said they were promised food but didn’t get any. Could you shed light on what transpired?
KC: Yes, it was quite an unfortunate development. What happened according to our understanding as the Youth League is that we had invited everyone. President Mugabe is not only a Zanu-PF leader but he is also a national leader, he is also a continental leader; hence you find other youths from other political parties from outside Zimbabwe they come in their numbers to grace such occasions.

We had been advised by our respective provinces that they were bringing an average of 10 000 youths per province. So we based on that as far as our budget was concerned. We prepared accommodation for approximately 100 000 people.

We approached local schools in Bulawayo and in Matabeleland North to make them 10 schools which were going to cater for 10 provinces. We arranged food for our delegates with a budget for approximately 10 000 people per province. Little did we know that some provinces were going to surpass that number.

It is not an offence, it’s quite a positive development because we are also taking note that as long as you call the name President Robert Gabriel Mugabe even people who had not been invited will troop in their numbers.

So we realised that we had an overflow of people who had come to Bulawayo for the President’s birthday, hence we were caught pants down because in terms of preparations, in terms of food logistics and accommodation we had not prepared ourselves for such a bumper crowd.

We were taken by surprise, but I would like to thank the Zanu-PF Youth League, in particular the national executive. We had to work 24 hours, overnight, some of us did not sleep trying to arrest that situation hence we resorted to go and source that food, to source some supplementary accommodation for those people during the night.

Mind you, that was the same night that we were doing some final touches so that the following day we have our event. It is quite unfortunate that some of our comrades might have slept uncomfortably but at the same time we take it as a lesson.

Next time when we do these preparations we have learnt that when we plan we need consider the fact that people might surpass the anticipated numbers.

CC: Speaking about the youth and your role as Secretary for Youth Affairs within Zanu-PF, what programmes are you planning as we head towards the elections in 2018? How do you intend to capture the youths as they are a large and significant demographic in terms of the voting population?
KC: We have got several programmes which have been lined for the Youth League. We are still to finalise our calendar of events for this year. We only had our first national executive meeting this year with one item on the agenda which was preparation for the 21st February Movement celebrations.

That already on its own is an event of the Youth League. So now that we are done with it we are going to have another national executive meeting in a short while so that we put in place other programmes on our calendar of events this year.

But this year is going to be a busier year given the fact that we are heading towards the 2018 general elections next year. All our activities we will make sure that we are guided by our constitutional mandate and aims and objectives of the Youth League, that is to mobilise our young people to fully participate in social and economic activities of this country.

CC: You mentioned economic activities, one of the biggest issues that the youth face is unemployment and as the governing party there is an expectation on Zanu-PF and the Government as a whole that they provide a situation where jobs can be created and the youths can be employed. So what programmes or avenues are there that the Youth League is pushing for towards the creation of jobs for the young people?
KC: First and foremost, we would like to thank the Government for introducing Statutory Instrument 64 which has now proved that it is now working. We are now realising that some of our industries are now reopening and it’s a positive development as far as employment creation is concerned.

We would also like to thank the President for signing those mega deals which are now coming out. We have got the Kariba Power Station rehabilitation and the rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station which is in the pipeline. That revival of the energy sector plays a pivotal role as far as reviving of industries is concerned because no industry can operate without power, energy.

We would also like to thank the President for facilitating the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway. That alone is going to provide employment for about 300 000 people because it will be more like a chain.

We also want to thank the President for spearheading the Command Agriculture scheme, for spearheading the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme. These two schemes are also meant to revive the agricultural sector.

Gone are the days that we used to think that someone must have a 9-5 job for us to say he is employed. What is important is for someone to earn an income. So supporting those efforts which are being done by the Government to revive the agricultural sector, we take them as efforts to create employment.

Those efforts being done by Government to rehabilitate the energy sector are also efforts to create employment. The introduction of SI64 also reinforces efforts to create employment among other initiatives.

So I feel that the Government is doing what it can to ensure that a conducive environment is created for employment purposes.

As young people we see light but we still feel that more needs to be done because we have quite a big backlog. The Government must therefore act speedily in all its processes.

We also feel that the Government must ease some policies which are not even a security threat. I was giving an example in Matopos when I said for someone to obtain a liquor licence to operate a bottle store that person requires three months to get it. Just imagine that, three months for a liquor licence.

For someone to be accorded a mining licence for artisanal mining you need to fork out some cash upfront to the relevant authorities for you to be issued with a licence. We still feel that such bottlenecks need to be removed for the ease of doing business purposes.

Government needs to do more as far as addressing unemployment. And we as young people we are concerned because the majority of people who are being affected by this unemployment issue are our young people.

CC: There are also concerns that there is a huge age gap between the people that represent the youths in political offices as Members of Parliament and councillors and the youths themselves. Some people cite Zanu-PF as an example where the secretaries for youths before yourself were in their 50s and 60s, which is above the 35-year age limit for youths. You are one of the first youths appointments to that position. So what is being done in that respect to get more young people into political office? Will you field young candidates in 2018?
KC: It is our responsibility as leadership of this youth movement, the Zanu-PF Youth League, to mobilise. As I stated earlier, the aims and objectives of the Youth League are to mobilise young people to participate fully in political, social and economic activities in this country.

It is our responsibility to mobilise our young people to participate in every election. It is our responsibility as the leadership of the Youth League to mobilise our young people to participate in all the sectors of the economy.

It is the responsibility of us as the Youth League to mobilise our people to participate in social activities, be it in sport or any other social activities. So we are going to work very hard to make sure that our youths engage fully in economic activities and social activities such as sport or the arts. We are going to promote our youth.

Hence, when we had our 21st February Movement celebrations we had to rope in several youths groups so that they get an opportunity to showcase their skills. We are going to be more biased towards young artistes so that we expose them and give them the chance to showcase their skills.

In politics, we are also going to mobilise the youths to participate in the political spheres of this country, be it internally or when it comes to face external political parties. Come the 2018 general election, we are going to mobilise our youths to contest for council and parliamentary seats.

The only position which is not going to be contested, not by design but by the youths will, is the position of the President.

CC: How many seats do you expect to have for the youth in Parliament, for example?
KC: In Parliament I wish we could take all seats, because if you look at our system we have the Lower House and the Upper House. The Upper House has an age restriction, it’s 40 years and upwards. Already it has isolated young people.

For our elders, their positions are secured in the Upper House. But when it comes to the Lower House it’s every man for himself and God for us all. So we will be glad if we have the entire Lower House because our elders already have total control of the Upper House.

But at the same time, we are not going to impose the youths in any constituency. We are going to let them contest and those who win will carry the day. We are certainly going to encourage our youths to participate. Those who win, serve the people and those who fail, tough luck and try again.

The good thing is we are still very young and we do not have any reason to rush. But this coming 2018, we are going to encourage the youths to run for office in any constituency.

CC: As a youth leader who has risen through the ranks, what advice do you have for the youth who may want to enter politics and run for political office?
KC: I would like to say to young people that before they join politics, they must be very clear which party they are joining. My humble advice is that if they want to be in real politics, they must join Zanu-PF

It is the only home-grown political party, the only party that brought independence, the only party which cares for the black citizens. By virtue of us being black, we must join a party which is pro-black people.

I encourage them to be patriotic, I encourage them to be disciplined. The issue of discipline is of paramount importance. For each and every organisation to grow it must have disciplined members.

Unfortunately, we have realised that some young people are undisciplined, which means we cannot have an organisation which might have purported future leaders engage in indiscipline. Discipline is one of the key factors in a political party.

We also need patriotic politicians who love their country and respect their elders. My humble advice is to urge young people who want to join politics to join Zanu-PF. It is a party with user-friendly policies which are pro its citizens.

CC: With the divisions that have been played out in the media, issues of factionalism, how do you think that it will affect those who want to join the party?
KC: In each and every organisation you will find that there may be some people who may engage in such activities of indiscipline. It is only indiscipline which caused the divisions that you are purporting to say there are divisions.

But the Zanu-PF I know does not have any divisions. The Zanu-PF that I am a member of, is solid under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe. Don’t be misled by some rogue elements. Those are individual elements, the likes of (Energy) Mutodi and other characters.

Those are expelled renegades, a club of youths who were expelled from the party. Don’t let them mislead you. They were fired by the party and are no longer members of the party. So, we can’t say that there are divisions in Zanu-PF whilst you are referring to those rogue elements who were fired from the party.

As far as we are concerned in Zanu-PF we are united. We are solidly behind President Mugabe to the extent that we as the Youth League have since declared that he be a Life President. That decision was going to face objections if we did not have unity in Zanu-PF, but it did not face any objections, hence we feel our party is united.

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