How “You’re with us or on Your Own” Thinking is Destroying Future Leaders

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By Robert Mugabe

Kigali-Rwanda-everywhere in corners of the conferences, meetings in every country in Africa, the slogan is to involve the youth is the leadership of every respective country at the continent. Indeed my Kenyan friend was boosting the other day- on a chat that Kenya is in good model in the region since President Uhuru and his Vice Ruto are relatively young.

This friend supports January Makamba as next President of United Republic of Tanzania. For pro-Makamba’s camp believe that having him in office would bring generational shift! However, the intended in generational shift is change itself not age per say.

Society needs the youth for their energy, zeal, passion, patriotism and flexibility in thinking also for their integrity. Most of the young leaders in office we celebrate today are either born out of crisis like President Joseph kabila of DRC or President Paul Kagame of Rwanda…or are groomed in the parties which most of them still haven outdated ideals or run titanic bureaucracy like UNR of President Faure Gnassingbé.

Let’s take an example of January Makamba we have been talking about, he is from Chama Cha Mapindunzi (CCM) which has ruled Tanzania from the independence with Ujamaa in theory which means socialism.

Though CCM has roots in Ujamaa, but capitalism is the practice of the day. Forget about that Arusha declaration-my point is, yes CCM needs young person (in age) to rule United Tanzania but also CCM needs the youth to breathe life to Ujamaa politics… Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 I wouldn’t support a new wine (leader) in the old wine skin.

To be groomed in the strong and revolutionary party like CCM, one needs to practice “you’re with us” theory. It means you need to be more catholic than the pope. You need to be a good young and staunch sycophant in the system to be trusted, even when you are a capitalist at heart; you are expected to sing “chama cha wakulima”. Look, even though CCM started as a community party, everyone now knows that it’s only the elites who own the former chama cha wakulima.

The young and dynamic, free thinking young leaders are either in opposition or civil society with limited chances to stand. Nobody knows them. The status quo doesn’t recognise them. Yet they are lions in the den. “They are on their own”. That’s the price for being on your own.

Being on you on theory-mean you can be dynamic, free minded and with integrity but the status quo yet rejects you.  You are not with them. Actually being on your own has robed us many vibrant leaders who would do a lot for their country.  Yet the groomed young leaders in given parties are dead of sycophancy without the mind of their own. If they want to change anything, the party will frustrate them. They’re not free, they can’t change anything. They are too compromised even to change a TV channel at their own homes. what a compromised life!

Maybe, we need paradigm shift. We need something new opposed to these big political parties. What if we stand as an independent candidate? Will African society give them a chance? Tanzania people would you give them a chance? That’s the first change needed.

Maybe, you need change. You need to get away with these beautiful policies in books which are never implemented. You need to eradicate corruption, why not get away with that bureaucracy and embrace reforms? But you need to look around and identify young and dynamic leaders.

Robert Mugabe is a media practitioner and a young leader from Rwanda

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES