Young Zimbabweans Must Discover their Mission, Fulfil it or betray it.

Joshua Nkomo, the late Vice President of Zimbabwe spoke prophetically when he said, “Zimbabwe will not die, the young will save it.” These are uplifting words, feel good words which have inspired the young. They’ve been recited over and over again. They show great faith in the future generation that they can prevail where previous leaders failed. He uttered these words after acknowledging that his fellow leaders, advanced in age, had badly let the country down.

What no one explained to the young generation was the magnitude of the problems they must overcome in order to save the country.

Army v Democracy

The idea of a government of the people, by the people, for the people is yet to be realised in Zimbabwe. The proximity between the ruling party Zanu PF and the army has been an obstacle to strong and independent state institutions.  They are so close that a senior government minister declared recently that the army is part of their political party. Such utterances do not only reflect that they have no hope of winning free and fair elections, but they are prepared to use the army to govern against people’s will.

In the 2008 presidential elections, former president Robert Mugabe said the opposition got seventy-three percent of the votes, but the army cooked the figures and forced a re-run. More than three hundred people were killed during the re-run. In 2018, the army was deployed the day after elections, and it’s alleged as many as eight people were killed. This led to an inquiry which made recommendations, but they’ve been ignored. In 2019, during the internet shutdown, the army was deployed and the number of those who died is believed to be between fifteen and twenty-one.  

The way in which the army operates is contrary to democratic principles. By forcing people to be governed against their will, the army is effectively saying it cannot change its ways through logic and reasonable steps. It is essentially saying, you have to overpower us if you want free and fair elections. That’s not a responsible way of operating in a country of peace-loving people.

The young were born in a free country, have never been to war and they subscribe to non-violence politics. They don’t understand why the army is causing such havoc when it preaches everyday about gains of the liberation struggle. This is why the government is complacent and out of touch. It has the power to deploy the army against the people. There is no hope of holding the government to account.

Mission for Young Zimbabweans

Frantz Fannon said, “each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it.” Democracy ought to be the mission pursued by young Zimbabweans. The main objective must be a politics without the army and creation of strong state institutions. This mission is so vital that the country cannot function properly unless it’s addressed. No investor or company is going to invest in a dysfunctional country. Unless the politics change, the country will continue with an economic system that is based on dishonest principles and a dodgy currency. Civil servants won’t get the living wages they desperately need. The infrastructure will continue deteriorating.

This mission is not a walk in the park especially in a military state. Freedom as shown by the liberation war, does not come easily. Prisons are full of political prisoners and the persecution against opposition members is unprecedented. It’s a different matter to be liberated from a foreign power but the need to be liberated from your own government must be soul destroying.

Although this is a huge challenge, there is a feeling that enough is not being done. There is a lukewarm approach in terms of formulating an effective plan against the oppressive government. In a country where it’s illegal to demonstrate, no alternatives have been seen. Does this mean that this is the end of pushing back against oppression? The government would want it that way, but it shouldn’t be that way!

The fight for democracy has been going on for twenty-three years. People seem tired for it has been a long struggle. It could be they believe there is no reasonable prospect of the situation changing. The violation of human rights is getting worse and it’s designed to shrink political space. The current case of Job Sikhala is a shocking example of a government that has lost the plot. The government is terrified of his ability to inspire people during election campaigns that they jailed him without trial and denied him bail. Selective application of the law is the guiding principle in the courts.

A mission of this magnitude does not just happen on its own. It requires teamwork, a shared sense of purpose, direction, and a clear plan. The plan should be able to inspire those executing as well as inspire the public. The team should be made up of thinkers, strategists, and competent people. There is no lovely way of pursuing this mission as highlighted by Nelson Mandela’s life or Gandhi. The oppressor will never set you free willingly. It may take some sacrifice as Mandela’s 27 years in prison. Many people have been jailed and some have died and yet there is still no democracy. It is not for the faint hearted. This is a matter that each person must ask him/herself. No one should feel forced or pushed. This is for people driven by the strength of their convictions. You don’t choose your country and the political landscape it provides. You find it however way it presents itself. It’s up to you to shape it, or it will shape you.

Leadership and Vision

The young generation must understand that when the mission of democracy has been achieved, the hard work of rebuilding the country must begin. Zimbabwe needs visionary leadership that can do the complex work of transformation. Trying to fix the current system without turning the country upside down wont work. It’s imperative to have a new foundation clearly defining what the country is about and what the country stands for and most importantly, who Zimbabweans are.

It requires an ambitious vision that has an appreciation of both Zimbabwe’s and the world’s history, modern realities, and Zimbabwe’s place in the current world, and Zimbabwe’s place in the future of the world. This kind of thinking is different to what has been displayed in the last 42 years. A country is bigger than a village and to impose village standards on a country that must operate in a world of eight billion people is counterproductive. A leader can keep his village philosophy as long as he can rise to the challenges of a country in an intricately linked world.

You can’t address a problem without acknowledging that it exists. The way current leaders address problems is by sweeping them under the carpet or pretending they don’t exist. This is because they are not affected by the impact of their inaction or incompetence. There are people in government who hold powerful positions, but they are not qualified to be in those positions. What this does, is subject the country to mediocre standards and often at the expense of the country in the long run.

The young generation must understand that Zimbabwe needs a new leadership culture in which those interested in serving their country, must be committed to higher standards. The difference between functional countries and failed countries is the leaders. It’s the leaders who make decisions that advance a country or decisions that hurt a country. It’s leaders who are comfortable flying abroad for their medical needs instead of building local hospitals that benefit everyone. It’s leaders who make space for an independent judiciary or a captured judiciary


The question that young Zimbabweans must answer is, are they going to pass the Joshua Nkomo test? Are they going to save Zimbabwe or not? Answering this question fits neatly with Frantz Fannon’s submission that each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it.

Is it Time for the UK to have a Written Constitution?

“A constitution is not the act of government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right… A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government: and a government is only the creature of a constitution.”    Thomas Paine 1792

“If a constitution means a written document, then obviously Great Britain has no constitution. In countries where a document exists, the word has that meaning. But the document itself merely sets out rules determining the creation and operation of governmental institutions, and obviously Great Britain has such institutions and such rules. The phrase British constitution is used to describe those rules.” – Sir Ivor Jennings author of The Law and the Constitution.

The UK’s constitution is unique in that it’s not codified like most constitutions in the world. It’s the product of many centuries of continuous and, mostly, gradual, peaceful evolution. It has an unbroken history of constitutional development starting in 1066. It’s based on conventions, not law. This unique constitution relies on politicians doing the right thing as not doing so would be disastrous. The politicians are still expected to operate in the interest of the public.

Another unique element of the UK constitution is the role of the crown. Before the 18th century, a King or Queen could choose a Prime Minister of his/her choice. Now, politicians are still deemed to act in the name of the crown, but they answer to parliament. Decisions like going to war, appointing, and dismissing Prime Ministers are subject to parliamentary approval. The crown does not have real power anymore even though the government is called Her Majesty’s Government. The real power is in parliament. The crown has ceremonial or discretionary powers.

As submitted by Lord Sumption, so much in British Constitutional law, “the label on the bottle has little to do with the contents.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is deemed to be unconventional given his idiosyncratic approach to politics. Commentators say he’s the politician who defies political gravity. They expected him to spend at least 10 years in power and transform the conservative party forever. He was London Mayor for 10 years, delivered Brexit and went on to be Prime Minister. He wanted to be world president from a young age. Since the UK does not do presidents, he had to settle for Prime Minister.

He had political capital that his predecessors could only dream of. Unfortunately, it could not stop politicians from his own party from getting rid of him. His fellow parliamentarians recited trust issues, integrity, and a general problem with adhering to rules. As such, they wanted him gone less than 3 years after becoming Prime Minister. It seems harsh considering what he achieved for the party. He would not go without a fight though. He told them that he had a colossal mandate from 14 million people who put him in power, not them. It took an unprecedented strategy in which 58 ministers resigned from his government in 2 days for him to finally resign.

Some constitutionalists were shocked by how the whole process of getting rid of Boris Johnson materialised. They felt he should have gone way earlier when his colleagues in parliament told him it was time go. By resisting and refusing to resign, they felt Boris was effectively pushing the unwritten constitution to breaking point. This constitution which relies on politicians doing the right thing, encountered Boris who felt the people, not parliament could only get rid of him. Constitutionalists could not believe that a Prime Minister was refusing to resign even though there was evidence suggesting sufficient grounds for resignation.

Margaret Thatcher won 3 general elections and spent 13 years in power, but her own party got rid of her without elections. Tony Blair was Prime Minister for 10 years and his party got rid of him without elections. In these instances, parliament was discharging its duty on behalf of voters when it felt leaders had acted below the expected standard or lost confidence in them. It seems brutal but that’s the system where parliament is the only instrument by which government can be held to account. This is different to a presidential kind of system where there are checks and balances to ensure the president does not operate beyond his powers or take the country in the wrong direction.

The manner in which Boris resigned resulted in people talking about the need to have a UK written constitution. They are of the view that if a similar event were to arise in the future, the system might not survive the push back. A written constitution would address the problem swiftly without threatening the principles on which the country is built on. Lord Sumption suggested that an independent body with constitutional powers must be created so that it can step in should the Prime Minister “run amok.” He went further and said, if someone like Donald Trump was Prime Minister, he would have brought the whole system down given it’s built on conventions.

Conventions by their nature are fragile, they don’t have teeth. Relying on the honour of politicians to do the right thing is risky. The UK Parliament created a ministerial code which parliamentarians should abide by. It does not seem to have the deterrence factor as it’s not grounded in law.

There are some leaders who naturally don’t believe rules apply to them whether they are in a written constitution or not. If someone is determined to push the rules to breaking point, they are likely to fold as they often do in countries under dictatorship.


Although the UK constitution was tested recently, it also showed that it works because in the end, Boris Johnson had no choice but to resign. The unwritten UK constitution was able to get rid of Boris Johnson while the strong and powerful US constitution could not get rid of Donald Trump. The rules don’t work by themselves, they need moral and ethical people who believe in them.

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