Who will put young people first?

Dear Joice “Teurairopa” Mujuru

Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje

Joice Mujuru

Joice Mujuru

It is with great turmoil of the soul that I have decided to write this letter to you. It is not because I do not like you, far from it, and my articles are testimony to that. It is the mixture of emotions and lived realities that you have come to represent in Zimbabwe’s political landscape.

This letter is not personal but my own process of reflection as I seek to unpack what I see as a leader (in my own right) in this country. Thank you for braving the harshness of Zimbabwean politics and launching your party last week. I dropped everything that I was doing to come and hear you take us through the journey of your vision but, alas, it was a “closed door” meeting.

Something pretty odd for a party that deems itself to have people at heart, first and foremost. I will not get into how the very naming of this political party somewhat evokes memories of a somewhat similar party. Uuuuuuuummmmmmmm, we will wait and see!

The launch of the party was, for me, below expectations. For a party that speaks to people, I would have loved to see it being launched in a more “people-friendly” place. The setting, from the little I know of it, has a history that does not speak of “people-friendly”. It is not the glamour and glitz that freaked me out — it is the Union Jack and flag, thereof, that made me question whether that was the most strategic space to launch such a long anticipated, people-centred initiative. Thanks to many techno-savvy people who were present, I was able to have a somewhat reliable transcription of the speech. We, however, need to be more inclusive in this new outfit of yours my dear leader. If we are speaking “people first” then let us see which people these are.

The same old leaders? Or is this political party offering us a breath of fresh air? Please, help me understand, as I would welcome some form of transformation and rewriting of this country’s narrative.

The leadership, including the founding fathers, were also mentioned. It is very good that the party does have roots. However, these seem to be the same old leaders who have traumatised us as the younger generation for years.

Having been born slightly over three decades ago, I do know for sure that putting lipstick on a frog does not make it the knight in shining armour those fairytales talk about. What is so new about you and your team? We do know that you carry quite a lot of baggage. If, by some weird chance, you had not been “pressured” to leave Zanu PF, would your lot have decided to willingly embark on this journey? How about the many stories our elders tell us about whom you and what you represent? The many activists who have suffered with one or more of you being a part of it? Could it be a lie? Ah, my mind is spinning in an urgent need to get answers.

Does launching this new party mean that we bury the hatchet? Are you all now claiming a Damascus experience and that you have suddenly seen the light shining from who knows where? I do recall that the biblical Saul, turned Paul, had a bitter experience with even seasoned Christians like Ananias telling their Maker that they feared this ruthless man who was well known for his not-so-good acts. Somehow you bring that part of the Bible to mind at this moment. I am one who desires to see Zimbabwean people put first and that you have said but it is the nitty-gritty truths of what you are currently exuding that has me totally confused beyond action. Please help me understand what it is you offer that is different from the status quo. This letter also serves to explore the question — where are the young minds in your party? I am not sure I heard even a single one being mentioned. Is it that we are too cowardly? Or maybe it got lost in translation?
Currently we need a political party that will offer Zimbabwe a new narrative in word and in deed. Now is not the time to be unclear and doubting and stepping up unpolished as the electorate is in urgent need of someone who will offer a new narrative.

A leader, who is clear in terms of how they will deliver the people to the so-called “promised land”. We have seen so many political parties and players on the political scene and you can help by telling us the how so we make our choices early in terms of the current reality. Now is the time to polish that act and get us to the next level.

This world is unfortunately not gracious to women leaders and so we do not want to perpetuate a culture that has been long standing. We need to get ourselves together and work hard towards what we want to see. There are just so many questions that still need to be answered and although I do know that you are busy and have many political interests to protect, I would be grateful if you get this message and are able to somewhat reflect on this.

There would also be such gratitude amongst those questioning your leadership credentials and what you put on the table to have a social media platform to get hold of you. It could be to give feedback, ask questions, interogate matters of the day and so on. I am sure that by now all these questions you could have processed too but I would like to know what the responses are. Maybe there are runners you are working with and these are efficient enough to facilitate for a process of dialogue, conversation and debate as is synonymous with healthy political spaces.

May they help you respond to our keen enquiries. That is part of what a people’s party does, it speaks people and especially the young and questioning ones! It also listens more than anything so it stays in touch with the people it places as first priority. Some of the solutions to our current challenges could actually come from the very same people you represent, converse with and listen to.

These people may also have nothing to do with the status quo or have never been linked to it or are novices in politics. We need a new paradigm and if you are offering it, let us see it in a different way of doing things.

Finally, I do hope that you are well and in good mental health. We are still here as the young generation wondering, seeking, questioning and holding solutions to our challenges that we do hope you will consider one day.

All the very best with your political party. I wish you renewal, strength, stamina, eloquence and excellence as you and your team seek to take Zimbabwe to the next level. Let’s do this. With best wishes

●Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and loves stimulating conversation. She would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on graceruvimbo@gmail.com, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook: Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje. Chat soon.

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