Zimbabwean social media has been abuzz with animated discussions on the new phenomenon in local politics, the #generationalconsensus movement, a youth oriented initiative that seeks to scale up the participation of youth in this year’s general election
One of the organisers of the #generationalconsensus, Pride Mkono (PM), speaks to NewsDay (ND).
ND: What is #generationalconsensus?
PM: #generationalconsensus is an independent movement of young people in colleges and universities, the unemployed, young professionals, those in the church, young informal traders and those in farming communities, which is mobilizing fellow youths to register and vote for (the MDC Alliance presidential candidate )Nelson Chamisa in the 2018 elections. It comes on the backdrop of serious youth apathy in the previous elections with the 2013 election recording only 5% of young people who participated in the plebiscite. Thus #generationalconsensus seeks to correct this anomaly and ensure that young people as the majority of the population decide the outcome of the 2018 elections.
ND: By focusing only on youths are you not discriminating other generations?
PM: Far from it, this generation has simply identified its mission and is putting together the necessary strategies to fulfill this mission. By mobilising the youths who hitherto were apathetic to national processes, we in fact are complimenting the generations before us. We are complementing the liberation generation’s effort towards political independence, the generation of Hebert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Lookout Masuku and others. We are also complementing the post liberation generation which fought hard for multi-party democracy, the generation of Morgan Tsvangirai, Learnmore Jogwe, Margret Dongo, Tendai Biti, Thabitha Khumalo and others. So we are saying that as a generation we have to take over from this and use our intelligence, innovation and creativity to bring about total transformation of the country. In essence as a generation we are assuming our historical role in the development of our country.
ND: What is this ‘role’ or mission which you are talking about?
PM: As I have already alluded to above, the backbone of our mission is total transformation of Zimbabwe in all facets from the social, economic to the political. What this entails is that as a generation we have the ultimate responsibility to extricate ourselves from the clutches of poverty, unemployment, dictatorship, violence, hopelessness and exclusion which we have endured as a generation at the hands of moribund nationalists who appropriated the fruits and values of independence for themselves. So in essence our mission is to build an inclusive and democratic Zimbabwe which is economically developing and has a future for all its generations.
ND: What are the strategies you are employing in pursuing your mission?
PM: The first step we undertook was to make a scan of the political environment and find leadership which reflects our missions as a generation. In undertaking this scan of the political environment, we were guided by the values of social democracy such as solidarity, democracy and inclusion. Within Zimbabwe’s political leadership contesting for the presidency, only Chamisa identified with such values. So at a political leadership level we made a choice to support Chamisa for president. In order to reach out to young people, we are making use of social media to reach out to millions of young Zimbabwean and on that front we have made significant impact. Everyone is now talking about #generationalconsensus. We are also organizing youth Town Hall meetings and debates at tertiary institutions to promote dialogue and amplify the voices of young people in this election. We have also been engaging youth at growth points, social functions such sports events, high and low density suburbs, visited companies, the informal sector, door to door campaigns. We have been precisely engaging youth from across social, economic differences alive to the fact that youth are not a homogenous group.
ND: How different is your platform from what other youth are organising, we recently saw a meeting being held in South Africa around the Generational Consensus banner?
As #generationalconsensus we are self-organising and are very excited that young people all over are organising themselves and creating platform to mobilise for the campaign. However we take great exception some elements who were behind some failed campaigns and are now attempting to cause confusion. They claim that generational consensus is similar to what happened in November 2017 within Zanu PF.They fail to recognise that the so called ‘new dispensation’ is a continuation of the old and can thus not transform this country as they were part and parcel of steering the nation into the doldrums we find ourselves in. We are also not associated with any tainted names which have been figured in various scandals of a financial nature. Our campaign is therefore very different in that it is organic and values driven and seeks to garner electoral support for Chamisa in the upcoming polls and beyond that, to provide solutions in rebuilding our country. It is therefore different!
ND: Going forward, what can the nation expect from the #generationalconsensus campaign?
In the next few weeks, we will be rolling out public meetings in Town halls in urban townships, growth points and rural areas to allow young people to contribute to the developmental agenda of the country post the 2018 election.
We will also organise teams to monitor the electoral environment and expose any malpractices. As a movement, we will not allow electoral fraud and rigging to go unchallenged, we will be vigilant in protecting the vote.
Further, we shall continue to mobilise young people to register to vote and to vote for a leadership which understands our concern and has cutting edge solutions to our national problems. Such leadership is represented in the candidacy of Chamisa and thus who we will mobilise and vote for.