Chamisa clause, a view from the other side!

Chamisa clause, a view from the other side!
Published: 15 December 2018 (403 Views)
The revolutionary party Zanu-PF's 17th Annual National People's Conference where all representative organs of the party are placing on the table a wide array of policy proposals is currently underway in Esigodini, Matabeleland South Province.

It is in the spirit of democratic discourse that this writer puts forward the sentiments of the party's youth who are based in the UK and Europe.

The article will look at alternative views on the issue of presidential age limits as proposed by the Women's League and the War Veterans' Association respectively.

It is important to state that the current discussion within the party pertaining to age limits is one that is robust and is in context with the party's pre-conference tradition.

In addition, the discourse further evidences the party's internal democratic processes which further emboldens the agenda of democratic reform.

After the 2018 harmonised elections, the party committed itself to a reformist agenda that would be predicated on radical economic transformation and re-engagement.

As many will know, the process was and is anchored on the engagement and re-engagement policy that our President describes as "the opening of a new chapter in our relations with the world, underpinned by mutual respect, shared principles and common values."

Considering this point, the actions taken domestically will certainly have a bearing on the promises made to the country's domestic and international partners. It is therefore important to highlight the importance of pursuing policies that enhance the prospects of yielding positive outcomes during the re-engagement exercise towards Vision 2030.

This is mainly due to how crucial Government's ability to attract international and domestic investment is, if the promises made in the Zanu-PF manifesto are to be attained. Therefore, the age limit proposal, when placed in this context of the existing political class, appears to not promote the underpinning ethos of the new dispensation, whose crystallisation is in the ruling party's willingness to be open.

Although the basis of the argument on age limit is understandable, Stephen Moss, the British author once wrote in an article for the Guardian that "The UK is a prime example of how youthful career politicians can give politics a bad name".

There is certainly a need for one to have had practical life experience. For instance, it is argued that Churchill's finest hour came when he was 65; Disraeli got to the top when he was 70; RG Mugabe was 56 when he took over. But all these examples do not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that age becomes a prerequisite of maturity, as there are other evidenced examples that demonstrate the opposite.

What is critical is the decision one makes to throw away childish behaviours at (whatever age) – even the good book says, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." It means one becomes a mature man because they choose to throw away all childish behaviours. Throwing away childish things becomes the prerequisite for maturity.

Besides, it is important to not forget the political implications the debate on age limits has on an overwhelmingly young voting population. If the messaging is not explained well, it will implicitly suggest a lack of confidence in the party's ability to create leaders through its own Youth League.

This is not to say that there are many in line ready to take over tomorrow, the point is, if the reason for the policy is immaturity, what of the many responsible and capable young men and women who already run many important institutions? Are they immature or incapable because of their age? The impact of such broad generalisations will definitely not translate well in parliament and at the polls.

The party ultimately runs the risk of marginalising an already marginalised group through its own messaging. Perception is everything. Especially in a world now overly centred around social media, words matter more now than ever before.

Conversely, if the intent is to nurture responsible participants then strategic long-term action is what's required. One of those could be implementing civic educational programmes that enlighten participants of their duty to the nation.

For more broader outcomes, this civic education could be buttressed by a law like the Logan Act of the United States. This will avoid leaders who do not have authority from engaging with foreign governments whose policies are unfavourable to Zimbabwe, such as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) that was allegedly proposed by the opposition in Zimbabwe.

The intent behind such an Act would be to prevent such actions without discriminating participants due to their age. Such a law will require a nationwide campaign which will grant stakeholders an opportunity to enlighten society about the importance of patriotism and the subsequent benefits. This kind of action presents a more long-term approach that will promote public confidence in the political process and strengthen the social contract between government and the governed.

In brief, steering away from short-termism in our policy-making will create the necessary efficiencies in our institutions and guarantee the realisation of Vision 2030. Zanu-PF carries the heavy load of demonstrating to the nation and the world at large that its history (good and bad) will not become an impediment to its future.

The New Dispensation should certainly shy away from policies that strengthen the negative reportage of the party and nation. Especially if the reports are premised on preventable actions.

Most importantly, how will our domestic base receive an action that appears to be sidelining an opponent, yet preaching a politics of openness? Will they share the faith in our ability to pursue our priorities if we are seen to be reactive to the actions of an already inept opposition?

That certainly does not describe a party confident in its own proposed agenda. After all, this is the same Zanu-PF that has successfully launched the Transitional Stabilisation Programme that has been backed by all prominent global financiers and the same party that has rolled out an impressive infrastructural programme that will boost confidence in long-term investment.

There is therefore little need to jeopardise such efforts by spoiling the nation's image through actions that may be read as repressive and not progressive.
–-----Farai Muvuti is the chairperson of the Zanu-PF Youth League, UK & Europe Chapter

- chronicle

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