Zim desperately needs leadership renewal

Cyprian Ndawana

GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, as you are quite aware, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) symbolises the antiquity of State-owned public institutions. It is grounded, rundown and gathering dust and rust.

It has been reduced to a shell. It faces a daunting task to be able to return to its former glory. It is a dilapidated version of the one inherited at independence. Sorely missed is the rail network that used to be the pride of the nation.

Nostalgia haunts me as I reminisce about the convenience that we were accustomed to. It ran intercity services admirably, contributing positively to the economy.

Together with the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company, they had a reputation for reliability. My generation used to tell time not by looking at the wrist watch, but by the routines of trains and Zupco buses as they punctually plied their routes.

Your Excellency, your appointment of Tshinga Dube to the NRZ board on a three-year contract does not inspire confidence.

As I see it, it accentuates your ineptitude and dearth of conceptual skills requisite for efficient management of State affairs.

It is standard procedure in appointments to judiciously match the competencies of the prospective appointee with the complexities of the job.

Essentially, NRZ is in dire need of insightful leadership. An octogenarian does not have a place in an organisation that is crying out for revival.

Considering the need for the modernisation of the railways, it is imperative that all board members ought to be acutely insightful.

Board members must of necessity be well acquainted with the latest technology like bullet trains. It boggles the mind that you appointed an ageing board member.

He has no value to add. With all due respect, he will be a liability throughout his three-year tenure.

His appointment has once again demonstrated your penchant for the aged at the expense of innovative vibrant youths.

Your Excellency, your preference of geriatrics knows no bounds. It was with great elan that you amended the Constitution to upscale the then 70 years retirement age limit for the Chief Justice. Yet, there were honest younger jurists of impeccable integrity and probity.

Also, your appointment of veteran politician Wilson Khumbula to the Zanu PF central committee was retrogressive.

Admittedly, he holds a place of a pride in the liberation history of the country. Yet, thrusting him to the coalface of politics was regressive.

Methinks considering his advanced age, he could have been sufficiently honoured by appointing him to the organ you introduced, the council of elders.

There are several other doddering septuagenarians who ought to have retired. They must have stepped down together with you from the rigours of politics and public affairs. It is about time the young succeeded the old.

As I see it, the balance of power has for some time been tipping against the old. That one youth is challenging your ascendancy to the party leadership and the other against the acceptance of the delimitation report is awakening.

Their legal challenges are genuine and justified. They exhibit devoted acts of loyal citizens. It got to a point where it was no longer tenable for them to tone down their despondency in the face of an unfolding leadership crisis. They mustered their convictions and dropped their caution.

Your Excellency, the youth has for long been restive about succession. It is now past the time for them to accede to such claims as, we fought the war of liberation. It is no longer sustainable for the youth to have their welfare presided over by old men and women who ought to have long retired.

It is important for each generation to determine its own destiny. Ever since some diaspora youth argued in the Constitutional Court for restoration of their right to vote, the winds of change have been gathering pace and force. These winds are now blowing within Zanu PF.

While some outspoken youths were expelled from the party, no one knows with certainty the depth of disquiet and revulsion among the youth league over a leadership that has gone way beyond its sell-by date.

Ordinarily, being outspoken in a regimented institution like Zanu PF is not for the faint-hearted. Even bigwigs take perimeter checks before they utter critical thoughts against the top hierarchy. It is the culture to express concerns only to sworn confidantes.

Methinks Zanu PF is a cult and not a mere party. It instils fear of the consequences of reproof, hence none of the stalwarts stood with you when you were summarily dismissed from the party in November 2017, accused of lack of probity.

Your Excellency, the youths have thrown the hat in the ring. They were inspired by fellow youths who argued convincingly in defence of the youthful opposition leader who was challenging results of the 2018 presidential vote in the first post-Robert Mugabe harmonised elections.

That was the time we entered an era of diminishing confidence in the Presidency and State institutions.

A minister threw away the baby together with the bathwater when he claimed that the assault on senior citizenry in Murehwa was stage-managed by the opposition.

An impression was created when you assumed power that your leadership would be a distinct contrast of the Mugabe tenure.

Yet, reality is that you have not been the epitome of the inferred progressive governance, marked by justice and equitability.

The Judiciary, which is ordinarily the last bastion of equity and the police, have been weaponised. Given the recent arrest of opposition supporters in Budiriro, assault on lawyer Kudzai Kadzere and the series of bail denials, anxiety is growing across the political divide on the part of youths.

Your Excellency, resistance to succession by perpetuating the incumbency compromises stability and viability. It is an abuse of the blessing of longevity to die on harness. It is my prayerful conviction that it is now time for leadership transition.

  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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