Yesterday we carried a story under the headline “Khupe raps political human trafficking” in which Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe blasted politicians for exploiting youths during election time.
“We have seen the abuse of young people during elections as they are forced to participate in political violence. We must also expose this form of exploitation,” she said.
The Deputy Premier has correctly observed that youths are bussed from one area to another with express orders to kill or maim on behalf of politicians. She has aptly noted this as a new form of political trafficking that must be stopped.
It is a pity that politicians in this country do not see and value the youth as partners in development, but tools for political violence. This is particularly so among leaders who have, since Independence, monopolised positions through the use of violence.
Most, if not all such leaders have nothing more to offer to the electorate and they know it.
Coercion is what keeps them in power. It is not that the youth are inherently violent; their behaviour is a result of intimidation and manipulation by politicians who, at times, promise them reward for doing dirty work on their behalf.
Since Independence in 1980 the youth, during election periods, have been used as weapons for violence.
They have been used to target other youths and their fellow community members. Instead of the politicians guiding the young to be embodiments of positive energy, morality and diligence for development, these misguided power-mongers turn them into political thugs for narrow agendas.
They do not see the young as the future, rather they see them as their apparatus for staying in power through violence.
These old and tired leaders do not have an eye for tomorrow. They live in the here and now which motivates them to turn the youth into personal thugs for short term political survival.
The problem with political leaders who hold on to power after their sell-by date is that they are averse to dialogue and they can no longer canvass for the people’s mandate. Instead, they patronise the youth whom they turn into hooligans. They have no agenda to empower the youth at all. The more the youth are “indebted” to them, the easier it is for them to use them for political violence.
The deplorable use of young people to push the violent political agenda should never be tolerated. It should just stop. The youths should also wake up and turn against anyone who wants to use them as pawns in the dirty game of political violence.