By Boris T Muguti-Dear reader, in this small piece of writing, Boris seeks to shed light on why and how students should participate in the 2023 harmonized general election.
The students’ vote played a fundamental role in the electoral outcomes of many countries worldwide; thus, Zimbabwean students should not shy away from elections because they have a crucial role to play. Students should be strategically positioned and actively involved in the national discourse. Students constitute a massive chuck of the electorate; hence their vote is crucial in the 2023 harmonized election. Globally, students are known to be barometers of class consciousness; apart from voting, students should also help spread voter education across the country. Lastly, the student is crucial in protecting and defending the vote.
The United Party for National Development (UNDP), under the capable leadership of Hakainde Hichilema, won the Zambian election in 2021 with a landslide victory claiming over 59% of the total vote. Hichilema’s victory sent waves across the globe as most political analysts doubted his capacity and probability to grab power from the then-incumbent President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. His victory gave hope to opposition leaders across the African continent, the hope that it is possible to wipe away dictatorship and achieve total change peacefully. However, it is paramount to note that Hichilema’s victory did not come on a silver platter. All groups played their part to turn the dream of change in Zambia into a reality. Hence, if Zimbabweans genuinely seek to turn the vision for change into existence, everyone should play their part.
Students lie at the centre of the matrix for change and must contribute immensely to the fight for change. The million-dollar question remains, “Why fighting ?“. Leon Trotsky says, “..students are in a permanent state of revolution because they are directly and indirectly affected by everything that happens in a nation”. Students are equally affected by the problems that society faces at any time. Currently, Zimbabwe is ensnared in a serious economic quagmire, and students have been the major victims of this economic crisis. The economic crisis has led to massive, unprecedented inequalities, and thousands of students defer their studies yearly because of the current economic malfunction. Students’ campus life has become difficult in this economy; students cannot afford to get three decent meals per day. Thousands of graduates are unemployed; hence if students do not unite and fight for the transformation of Zimbabwe into a Democratic Developmental state they will also become victims of unemployment after graduating. Thus, students need to change more than any group in society.
Students need help securing a Work Related Learning placement. The girl child is getting laid in exchange for attachment, thousands of students are working like donkeys in various companies and organizations and some students even fail to secure a Work Related Learning placement. That is the nature of the Zimbabwean economy and the student is the major victim.
A plethora of parents and guardians who pay fees for students in institutions of higher learning are our dear brothers and sisters working tirelessly in the diaspora. These people are risking their lives in Dangerous countries like South Africa to support their brothers and ensure they finish their studies. Things are not well for them in the diaspora. In South, Africa Zimbabweans have been attacked and murdered by South Africans in what is popularly known as Xenophobic attacks. The most recent case is that of Elvis Nyathi, who was burnt by a violent mob in the streets of Diepsloot, North West of Johannesburg. These are very disturbing and worrisome reports. The student has a role in ensuring that Zimbabwe regains her integrity so that our brothers and sisters who are toiling in the diaspora come back home.
The Zimbabwean political climate is unsafe for students to exercise their rights fully. The autocratic regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa has closed the democratic space in the country. Students are not allowed to associate themselves with political parties of their choice as stipulated in the supreme document of the land- the Zimbabwean constitution. ZANU-PF has been forcing students to rally behind it’s old horse Emmerson Mnangagwa busing them to his programs and ZANU-PF Youth League programs. However the truth of the matter remains that students are fed up with ZANU-PF and it’s machinations. They now need change.
ZANU-PF has also made Zimbabwean politics very toxic through the use of crude violence, arbitrary arrests, abductions and torture of opposition party members and Human Rights Defenders. This toxicity is pushing away students from participating in the National discourse. Students do not believe in dirty politics, they believe in smart politics, the politics of ideas, democracy and good governance. As the election approaches, students should understand that a Zimbabwe in which politics of violence becomes a thing of the past will not come on a silver platter. They ought to get on board and play their part.
Fellow students, I can go on and on talking about the reasons why the student must take part in the fight for a new Zimbabwe but I will not be able to exhaust them. They are infinite.
HOW THE STUDENT SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE FIGHT FOR CHANGE.
Zimbabwe is going for elections probably in July this year. The student has a number of ways to contribute to the fight for a new Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe which is safe for every citizen, conducive for development and democratic. I noted three ways in which the student can contribute to the fight for change.
“Each generation must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it”- Frantz Fanon.
Fellow students, we have a generational mandate to usher in a change in our lifetime.
- The biggest step is registering to vote. This is a giant step towards winning Zimbabwe for change because if one is not a registered voter, he or she will not be eligible to vote when the election comes. Hence students should register to vote in numbers and vote for change. N.B, the students’ vote can play a crucial role in burying the dictator.
- As barometers of class consciousness, students have a role in educating society, and voter apathy should not be an issue among students. Instead, students should participate in fighting voter apathy by spreading voter education. Students should penetrate communities and enlighten society on why voting is important. ZANU-PF has been spreading too much propaganda in rural areas; hence the student has a fundamental role in countering such. Most importantly,the student must encourage the masses to support the fight for a new Zimbabwe without fear or favour, equivocation or ambiguity.
- On Averagely, students are a young and energetic group of people; hence in terms of protecting the vote, students must be at the forefront. The movement must allow students to be polling agents in various polling stations across the country. This is because, apart from being energetic, students are also exposed to modern technology; hence this will make it difficult for the predator to crank his rigging machinery.
If we all unite for a common reason, the dream of a new Zimbabwe will become a reality. The hopes of millions of Zimbabweans will be fulfilled. All forces that believe in this dream should at this significant moment in the history of our country, set aside their differences and fight dictatorship as a United Front.
Fellow students, it is our time and turn to champion the fight. Let’s go!
Like Steve“Bantu” Biko, I write what I like.
Boris T Muguti (ZINASU LEGAL SECRETARY)
Email: [email protected]