ZAPU Youth Front Members
My fellow comrades in the Youth Front, time and tide waits for no man. Time has come for me to formally graduate from ZAPU Youth Front to the Main structure. In the near future I will be turning 35 years which is an age-ceiling for our prestigious and militant wing. I would like to salute all the Youth Front members and those I served with from 2009 in different structures of the Wing. ZAPU has afforded me the privilege of serving from the Branch executive to the National executive structure. A lot has been done and a lot needs to be done. I am greatly consoled by the very fact that the tallest building has the deepest foundation. As the Youth Front we have spent a lot of time and energy on constructing our foundation. I am aware of the challenges we have had and successes we registered. A revolution is a Marathon and it has its mountains and valleys, its ups and downs. At times we feel the struggle is retrogressive and we feel like walking away as some of our comrades have done and some other times we feel like forming new political formations or pressure groups just like some of our comrades. But our loyalty to the cause has kept us motivated. We are sons and daughters of great warriors and statesmen who fought great battles without fear and built nations with pride. We are committed to the vision of building a just society where the country’s wealth and land is shared among those who work it and no man is exploited by the Parasitic Bourgeoisie.
My comrades for us to understand our concrete conditions, we need to pause and look back for a moment.
2009 – 2013 The Ideological battle for the soul of ZAPU The Youth
Leadership at provincial level was given the mandate to mobilize Youths and create structures in preparation of the Youth Front Congress. A lot of inter-provincial meetings were conducted during this period. The object was to create a conducive atmosphere for the first Youth Front Congress after ZAPU had escaped the dark ages in the belly of a beast. Euphoria and elation was tangible. During this period a lot of youths joined ZAPU with different expectations. Some within our ranks wanted the Party to be a regional party, of which we rejected such proposal; and some comrades including myself wanted the Party to retain to its original pro-left position. We had robust discussion on the vision and aims of the Party. The Pragmatists managed to give a broad church kind of an arrangement where all political philosophies are accommodated and our pragmatists comrades successfully shifted our attention to the system of governance we all adopted. Today, we are proud to mention that Devolution of Power has been included in the State’s Constitution. We also advocated for proportional representation against the Past the Post system; fortunately some opposition parties saw wisdom in our proposal such that they adopted our position and the proposal was also included in the constitution.
Organizationally we as the Youth Front failed to conduct cadre development programs. Our comrades felt frustrated as some of their expectations were not met. We had been bustling for four years trying to improve our institutions but it has been mere bustle, which has proved useless in these four years, or even futile, or even harmful. This bustle created the impression that we were doing something, but in effect it was only clogging up our institutions and our brains. We needed unity of purpose that could only be achieved by political education.
This led to the decline in numbers. Our comrades were not prepared for the task that lay ahead of us and some of our comrades thought the revolution was a sprint. The euphoria cannot last forever, it was time we faced reality and the harsh political conditions we were in.
Without a Youth Front National Structure, it was a challenge to coordinate youth activities. The Main structure (in goodwill) wanted to continue giving direction on youth matters and the youths felt that it was important for the youths to be autonomous in decision making since we understood our conditions better than anyone else. We were at loggerheads with the main structure. Some of our youth leaders left the Party.
The other challenge during this period was that most of the youths were unemployed due to socio-economic conditions of our country. This led to the financialisation of our political programs. Those who had resources managed to sponsor certain programs which benefited them politically more than the Party. Youths were seen to align with certain individuals who did not sponsor the Youth activities in general but only programs of their own preference. This was worrying in the sense that factions and camps were created around certain individuals. The membership continued to decline as some of our youths felt used and abused.
The Youth Front National Structure was needed more than ever. We had to soldier on. Lenin once said “We must follow the rule: Better fewer, but better. We must follow the rule: Better get good human material in two or even three years than work in haste without hope of getting any at all.”
The youths through the coordination of the Regional Coordinators (who work under the instructions of the Secretary General) prepared for the National Congress. There was a lot of optimism. We assembled for the Youth Front National Congress in Phelandaba. The name of the venue said it all. The following resolutions were made
1) The Youth Front Constitution was to be drafted.
2) The Youth Front Logo was to be designed
3) Political Education was to be conducted at provincial level
4) The Youths led NEC was to play a pivotal role in the election campaign
Comrade Mehluli Moyo was elected the Chairperson of the Youth Front and I was elected the Secretary General.
Our first NEC meeting was held in Harare, we had agreed that we will rotate provinces in hosting our NEC meetings. This was to give us the opportunity of visiting all provinces and monitor progress in these provinces. In our first meeting we made serious resolutions. We called for the Generation 40 to be included in the main NEC. This was before ZANU came with a Generation 40 faction.
Unfortunately most of our NEC members were not employed and some got frustrated and left the Party. The Youth Front National Chairperson Comrade Mehluli Moyo resigned after getting employed by some NGO. We were thrown to a crisis. The YF NEC then came to a resolution that I become the National Chairperson and Desmond Mhlanga steps in as the Secretary General.
The YF NEC resolved that during my tenure as the National Chairperson, we push the following Programs
- a) Cadre Development Program: we resolved that every province should conduct political schools so as to equip our comrades with necessary and pivotal knowledge. “without a revolutionary theory there cannot be a revolution”
- b) One College-One Branch: comrades were tasked to mobilize students in colleges and universities. Our aim was to get a branch in every college and university
- c) The Constitution was drafted and the provinces had to edit document and include their inputs. This was to be viewed as a working document not a final product.
- d) Provinces were requested to engage graphic designers and draft YF logos to be presented at the next congress for adoption
- e) The youth front was to design membership cards. This meant that the YFNEC would have access to correct statistics on our membership and also have access to the contributions made by our members
- f) Every Province was tasked to identify a business opportunity and draft a business proposal. Provinces were tasked to come up with financial projects to fundraise for the youth activities in their programs
- g) Create links with other progressive opposition parties within the country and in the region
- h) Memorial lectures in honor of our ZAPU heroes were to be organized.
- i) A visit to Mkushi Camp , Freedom Camp and other camps was to be organized
The YF NEC prepared for Makhokhoba Congress and Discussion Documents were prepared. Unfortunately due to shortage of resources the Northern Region failed to get to the Congress on time and the Provinces which attended could not constitute a quorum. A number of constitutional and democratic principles were not followed. The congress failed to deliberate on Youth Matters and failed to map the way forward. Above all, the only time when deliberations were made, the session was chaired by an elder!
This was one major drawback in the struggle for an autonomous, vibrant and militant Youth Front.
As disciplined cadres bound by democratic centralism we opted to remain card carrying youth members and loyal to the Party.
National Task Team
The National Task Team was then formed during the National Congress given the mandate to mobilize youth for a national congress.
What is to be done?
Cadre development and political education must take precedence. Lenin taught us that, the attitude of a political party towards its own mistakes is one of the most important and surest criteria of the seriousness of the Party and of how it fulfils in practice the obligations toward its class and toward the toiling masses. To admit a mistake openly, to disclose its reasons, to analyze the conditions which gave rise to it, to study attentively the means of correcting it: these are the signs of a serious Party; this means educating and training the class and the masses.
It is the duty of those in leadership in particular and comrades in general not to gloss over their mistakes or defend their mistakes, as often happens among us, but honestly and openly admit their mistakes, honestly and openly indicate the way these can be rectified. I know that the human nature and human ego might be a challenge in such acts.
Thabo Mbeki once quoted Lenin and alluded to the position that, we must follow the rule: Better fewer, but better. I know that it will be hard to keep to this rule and apply it under our conditions. I know that the opposite rule will force its way through a thousand loopholes. I know that enormous resistance will have to be put up, that devilish persistence will be required, and that in the first few years at least work in this field will be hellishly hard. We need to develop our cadres. Nevertheless, I am convinced that only by such effort, we shall be able to achieve our aim; and that only by achieving this aim we shall create a vibrant and militant youth front.
We must revisit the resolutions made by those who have walked our path and remain loyal to the Youth Agenda. If we do not arm ourselves with patience, if we do not devote several years to this task, we had better not tackle it at all.
My comrades the day to day life of every Party changes in accordance with the different stages of the revolutionary process. Our Party must be organized so that it can at all times adapt itself quickly to the changes in the conditions of the struggle. It would be a great mistake for the Youth Front to stake everything on an uprising, demonstrations or on spontaneous response of the masses to their extreme oppression. Not all political responses are revolutionary in nature; the youth front should be guided by the revolutionary theory. And if need be, the Youth Front should be in a position to lead and give direction to the struggle and not to be seduced by Struggleprenuers who come up with catchy #hashtags for their own benefit.
Democratic Principles within the party
The Party has number of institutions that are sound on paper but which are not fully functional. It is up to the Youth Front to defend the organization from itself and protect the democratic institutions in our party without fear, favor or prejudice. This is the most critical duty of a revolutionary cadre, to protect and defend the organization from itself, from its leaders and from its enemies. If we fail to defend the organization from itself, it is likely that the organization might change its nature or goals without proper and sincere ideological evolution. We have to defend the organization from being captured by its leaders who might be tempted to use the organization for their own selfish political needs. And lastly we need to defe nd the organization from its enemies within and outside the organization.
My comrades coming to African issues, our youth front must study the continental political dynamics. We are guided by Ubuntu philosophy which states that I am because we are. Our neighbors struggles should not be neglected. I am reminded of Mr. Dag Hammarskjold, then secretary-general of the United Nations, who toured 24 countries in Africa in 1960 and met ‘most of the national African leaders and shared the following sentiments. ‘I found the present generation of African leaders to be of high seriousness, devotion, and intelligence. I am sure in their hands those countries will go to a happy future.’ Unfortunately the conditions and the characters changed. Z. A Ntata rightfully poses that, although the cause to which they consecrate themselves is noble, their trust is sacred, their problems manifold and their tasks immense, African leaders consistently have failed to be on the lookout against pitfalls which have sabotaged their work and plunged their countries into economic and governance failures, or downright chaos.
The Youth Front should take a bold stand against the seven sins which African leaders get trapped in.
These are :
1) The policy of ‘rewarding friends and punishing foes
2) Nepotism and Tribalism, surely I don’t have to expand on that. A lot of lives have been lost due to tribal wars. Elections have been reduced to ethnic census
3) Blurred vision of what things should be resulted from the failure of nationalist leaders after the attainment of independence to switch from their role as freedom fighters to that of economic modernizers. Most leaders had been envying the opulent lifestyles of their oppressors and once independence was attained, focused on making themselves similarly opulent.
4) African leaders are often engrossed in personal struggles for power and preeminence in their political parties instead of embracing the spirit of teamwork and patriotism that was the hallmark of African pioneers 5) Corruption, In 1957, in his inaugural address to the newly independent state of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah cited corruption as a vice that risked gravely harming millions in Africa struggling for freedom and justice. And he was right!
6) Dictatorship. I believe that four things which bring about dictatorship in Africa: (a) too much trust, (b) too little trust, (c) neurotic ambition, and (d) neo-patrimonialism that is, the leader becomes uBaba, uMdala, Tata or Amai. Such titles give an impression that a leader cannot be contested and a leader is always right!
And the last sin is
7) Failure to Re-define Goals In the constantly dynamic world of politics, challenges continue to evolve. It is important therefore for a leader to be equally dynamic and adaptable, laying out a series of goals, and recognizing with relative precision when it is time to move from one goal to the other. Indeed, if such a re-definition of goals proves an elusive task, it is advisable and perceptive course of action for the leader to leave the arena, bowing out with dignity, which does not normally happen in Africa. African leaders want to be dragged kicking and screaming out of their thrones
Our Youth Leaders who are being developed to lead the Party should be aware of these dangers and challenges. They should be encouraged to develop character and positive attitudes that will keep them from pitfalls preventing the full development of their countries and peoples. Leadership should come with vision, teamwork, goal setting, and freedom for those in control to realize their skills in undertaking responsibilities, and knowing when to quit.
My fellow Comrades, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our position should informed by African Agenda 2063; which “represents a collective effort and an opportunity for Africa to regain its power to determine its own destiny, and is underpinned by the AU Vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, an Africa driven and managed by its own citizen and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”
Africa’s political leadership while acknowledging past successes and challenges rededicated itself to the continent’s development and pledged their commitment to make progress in eight key areas:
- African Identity and Renaissance,
- The struggle against colonialism and the right to self-determination of people still under colonial rule,
- Integration Agenda,
- Agenda for Social and Economic Development,
- Agenda for Peace and Security,
- Democratic Governance,
- Determining Africa’s Destiny, and
- Africa’s place in the world
We should defend the African Agenda and take a stand against any form of separationism, be it racism, tribalism or Xenophobia. It is time we take a stand and lead the revolution.
On international level
ZAPU Youth Front needs to take a stand on international and regional matters. It is absurd to shy away from international political dynamics cause of the fear that we might anger some “big” political actors. We need to stand for something, with someone at some point.
In 1948, Israel seized two-thirds of the territory allocated to the Palestinians by the United Nations partition plan, including a substantial strip of land to the north of Gaza where most of the rockets have fallen in recent days. Israel now occupies about 90 per cent of the land set aside for the Palestinian people including, of course, the West Bank.
For as long as this oppression – the greatest unresolved injustice of the 20th century – persists, there will be resistance. The only basis for a just and lasting peace remains the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel in accordance with the pre-1967 borders, with Palestine’s capital in East Jerusalem and international guarantees of peace and security.
It says much about the genocidal aims and motives of Israeli ruling circles that they are doing everything possible to destroy the potential viability of such a Palestinian state, including the continued incarceration of Palestinian leaders such as Marwan Barghouti. This reminds me of Gukurahundi era.
Our party, along with the international progressive movements, must redouble its efforts to demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli and to win ever-wider support for recognition of Palestinian statehood.
This is all the more important as we see imperialism’s intrigues plunging the Middle East into a fresh pit of conflict and bloodshed.
It is not necessary to endorse any aspect of al-Assad and Ba’ath Party rule in Syria to see the bloody hands of US, French and British imperialism at work in this conflict, in league with some of the reactionary oil states of the Middle East. The mountains of arms supplies to the anti- government forces have not materialized out of thin air. Their passage through NATO member Turkey into Syria is not unknown to the Ankara regime.
Recent Western-sponsored negotiations to unify the opposition are intended to pave the way not for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis, but for diplomatic recognition as the first step towards open financial and military support for the rebellion. This itself could involve direct NATO military intervention, perhaps under cover of a ‘No Fly Zone’ as we saw in Libya.
Again, alongside the rest of the international progressive movements, We should oppose these dangerous manoeuvres designed to install a more compliant regime in Damascus. They prolong the suffering of the Syrian people, they weaken the forces of secularism in Syria, they risk strengthening the forces of sectarianism and religious fundamentalism and they further undermine the prospects for launching a genuine peace process.
US imperialism and its allies are lining up their options. A military attack on Iran, especially by proxy through Israel, remains a real possibility. Of course, it will be prefaced by the same kind of lies that prepared public opinion for the invasions of Iraq and Libya. In retrospect, it is now clearer than ever that the defeat of the progressive, Soviet-backed Najibullah government in Afghanistan was a disaster for the Afghan people.
Farewell my comrades.
My fellow comrades, Inde lendlela. I truly believe that the Youth Front has capable leaders to take it to the next level. I have contributed to the best of my ability and I trust that the Front is in Good hands and it will defend the revolution without fear favor or prejudice. I would like to Salute the Youth Leadership in different structures, that is, Main Organ Structures from the BECs to the NEC and all those who serve in ZAWU structures and youth leaders serving in NPC. I would like to remind you that you serve in those structures pushing the Youth Front Agenda. A revolution is a relay now it is your time.
Forward with Youth Front Agenda
Forward with the Struggle for Freedom Aluta Continua
Written by Future Msebele Zulu: the former ZAPU Youth Front National Chairperson