AS the battle for the 2018 presidential election narrows down to three protagonists — President Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zanu PF), opposition MDC-T and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and People’s Rainbow Coalition’s Joice Mujuru, who has largely been labelled a spoiler, NewsDay staffer Albert Masaka (ND) at the weekend separately interviewed MDC-T youth spokesperson Brian Dube (BD) and Zanu PF youth activist James Pande (JP) on their roles in shaping their respective parties’ election preparations and voting patterns.
By Albert Masaka
ND: Recent Zimbabwe Election Commissions (Zec) demographics on voter registration show that 45% of the registered voters are youths, what does this statistic signal for the youth?
BD: The MDC-T youth assembly regards the 2018 elections as a youth vote. We campaigned and worked hard for the youth to register to vote through ‘Bereka Mwana Tiende’ campaign. We went countrywide explaining to young people to define, defend and secure their future through registering to vote in big numbers, and subsequently voting in big numbers. We also encourage young people to take charge through taking up positions and contesting as councillors and MPs in their numbers.
JP: Young people are the majority in this country and it’s good that they are now taking their right to vote seriously, so that they can defend the gains of the liberation struggle. As a youth aligned to Zanu PF, I will not have sleepless nights over Nelson Chamisa and MDC but will rather urge the sitting President and our 2018 candidate comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa to make sure that all the promises are delivered. ED is the man of the moment, a tried and tested veteran politician who has brought hope to our economic recovery. Right now Zimbabwe needs a leader who is stable and experienced to deal with any situation that can arise and be able to maintain peace.
ND: Why do you say so?
BD: Chamisa will win the election by 70%. There is no presidential race as Mnangagwa and Mujuru will be far behind and sharing 30% between themselves. I say this because all the young people who registered to vote will all vote for change and vote for president Chamisa. Even elder people who are sound and responsible will also vote for president Chamisa.
JP: I have no doubt that ED will win resoundingly because he is the hero of heros and has demonstrated the capacity to dismantle the corrupt regime and criminals who were surrounding the former President Robert Mugabe.
ND: In the past, the youth have been used to perpetrate acts of violence against opponents, what is your message to young people?
BD: Young people have never been really perpetrators of violence, but it was older people perpetrating violence through young people. We have also engaged young people to be vigilant and alert and, therefore, refuse to be used again. We are confident that Our youth will be responsible enough and shun violence.
JP: Young people should not allow themselves to be used to perpetrate violence against fellow youths but should rather unite to fight any form of violence. Elections are a democratic process and everyone should have a right to support openly who they want to vote for. Gone are the days when politicians used dirty tactics to manipulate and use youths. You cease to be a leader when you begin to force people to like you, true leaders inspire people.
ND: Would you like to meet Mnangagwa/Chamisa?
BD: Yes, I would like to meet Mnangagwa and tell him to rest since he has reached pensionable age and give young people a chance, under the leadership of Chamisa to rebuild the country. I will tell him to stop soldiers from interfering with civilian election processes.
JP: I don’t mind meeting Nelson Chamisa especially on a platform to denounce violence and promote peace. We witnessed ugly scenes of violence within the MDC-T at (Morgan) Tsvangirai’s funeral and I say that must not be allowed to get out of hand especially this time when political parties gear for harmonised elections
ND: What other message do you have for the electorate and candidates?
BD: President Nelson Chamisa is going to win 2018 elections resoundingly. He is the people’s president and the people’s choice. President Chamisa will win by 70% votes against any candidate. Mnangagwa and Mujuru will share amongst themselves 30%. The writing is on the wall that Chamisa is the people’s president.
JP: Zimbabweans must stand tall and unite to rebuild the economy, give Mnangagwa a chance to run the country. Rome was never built in a day and it takes positive attitude among the citizens to support our President and work together with him regardless of our political affiliation and religious inclination.