By James Martin
Speaking during the Bastille Day Anniversary in Paris-France in July 1996, former South African President Nelson Mandela said: “Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.” Implied here is that the ball is in young people’s court to bring change in their societies.
However, fear has been the biggest roadblock for African youths in their attempt to raise these banners of freedom.
In Zimbabwe, fear has been trending from as far as the 1984 Gukurahundi genocide which claimed the lives of an estimated 20 000 Ndebele speaking people.
The violent acts continued into the new millennium which coincided with the formation of MDC and the land reform in 2000 dubbed ‘Hondo Yeminda.
The ugly scenes of violence were also visible during 2008 Presidential election runoff, August 2018 shooting and the January 2019 demonstrations all these events have done nothing but bring fear to the young people and have blocked them from expressing themselves politically, socially and even artistically.
To understand the experiences and the consequences of the state of fear among the young people, this publication spoke to some distinguished youths from the media, politics and civil society.
Renowned award-winning journalist Stanely Mushava adopts that fear ‘forecloses young initiative and young agency, which are the conditions for national renewal and prosperity.
The current regime, he says is in the business of establishing a passive generation that does not question its shortfalls in many aspects of life.
“It’s not young people’s initiatives that the regime wants to promote but that youths be only heard when they are being handheld and clowning themselves in the service of a puppet master.
“I look around, a young journalist is being harassed, a young artist is being abducted, a young filmmaker is being held, a young lawyer is being assaulted, a young activist is being beaten for having an opinion about the economy.
“It’s a country closed to its young people. What we see as fear among youths is a rational response to the violent paranoia of the generation in power. But historically, repression always brings a people to place where they neither have anything to lose nor the space to act methodically.”
Pro-democracy and human rights campaigner, Treasury Basopo attests that political fear has rendered today’s Zimbabwe youths passive in contemporary issues accusing the ruling party Zanu PF of employing fear to sustain its power grip.
“The young people being the greatest participants in the current politics have been deterred from participation due to fear of victimization through torture, blackmailing, murder, imprisonment or being sodomised by top chefs in Zanu Pf.
“Zanu PF inflicts fear through intimidation and violence among the young people this has become its ever-efficient instrument in running this country.”
Zanu PF activist Taurai Kandishaya said political atmosphere reigning in the country has cultivated fear among the youths whose hope and confidence have been robbed resulting in their inborn talents suffering a stillbirth.
“Effects of fear are that through fear talents die prematurely just because one can’t do it. Fear in Zimbabwe is mainly caused by the current political situation which seems shapeless and hopeless to fearful youths.”