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Is Nelson Chamisa too young to be president?

14 Jun 2018 at 13:29hrs | Views
Election season in any country brings with it some crazy "vote for me" rhetoric. Politicians become "snake oil salespersons" gunning for the public's vote. In a normal voting system, it is the candidate whose message resonates with potential voters the most who usually gets the vote. But then, in Zimbabwe and indeed many other African countries, the voting system is nowhere near normal. The playing ground is never made level and is often biased towards the incumbent. In Zimbabwe, the system is made much more complicated by the dominance of the military in all major institutions- including the so-called Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Registrar General's office, government departments and other such institutions. We all know the history of poor performance of commissions in Zimbabwe. Lack of funding and political interference (a polite way of describing corruption), has resulted in most commissions set up by government failing to deliver in terms of the Constitution, rendering them useless and a burden to the nation's fiscus. Add to that, poor governance, recycling of underperforming ministers and a shameless spirit of entitlement.

The military junta has regularly pronounced that they will not salute a toddler. They will not allow anyone with no war credentials to rule the country. That means anyone below the age of 60 is not fit to contest presidential position. These military strongmen have no regards for the constitution. They have ruled this country by default via the Joint Operations Command (JOC). Led by Emerson Mnagangwa, the JOC was implicated in the violent suppression of opposition supporters between the 29 March election and the runoff election in July 2008.

Despite what the junta would want us to believe, it is fact that some of the most progressive nations in the world are or have been led by relatively young people. If he becomes president, Chamisa will join a growing list of successful world leaders in the 40-50 age group. On the other hand, if Mnangagwa becomes legitimate president, he will join a dying breed of aged world leaders. For example, at 71, Donald Trump is the oldest USA president (at inauguration).


Some of the best performing American presidents were in their early or mid-40s when they were sworn-in. Theodore Roosevelt was only 42 when he became president. In polls of historians and political scientists, Roosevelt is generally ranked as one of the five best presidents. JF Kennedy was 43 when he became president of the USA. Young, daring and charismatic, he challenged the Americans to dig deep and land a man on the moon (spaghetti roads anybody). Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians' polls of U.S. presidents and with the public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup's history of systematically measuring job approval. A brave champion and supporter of the civil rights movement, JFK verbally supported racial integration and civil rights.


At 46, Bill Clinton became one of the youngest America presidents, who delivered a budget surplus, the first such surplus since 1969 (something Zimbabwe can desperately needs). Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II, and he has continually scored high in the historical rankings of U.S. presidents, consistently placing in the top third.

We all remember the dreamy ascendency of one Barack Obama to the highest USA office in 2008, at the age of 47. Obama overcame all manner of attacks both during his campaigns and presidency (including Donald Trump's birther movement). During his 8 years in office, Obama signed many landmark bills into law including the Affordable Care Act (dubbed Obamacare) and spearheaded the Climate change Paris Agreement.

There is no known British Prime Minister who assumed office above 70 years. Zero. The oldest was Viscount Palmerston at 70. Notable British Prime Ministers who assumed office in their 40's was Harold Wilson, 48, Tony Blair, 43 (who became party leader at 40), John Major, 47 and David Cameron, 43 (who had the moral compass of resigning after a major referendum defeat).

In the past 100 years, Canada has had 6 Prime Ministers in their 40s or under. They include: Pierre Trudeau, 48, Joe Clark, 39; Mulroney, 45; Kim Campbell, 46; Stephen Harper, 46 and Justin Trudeau, 43. Other young world leaders include Jacinda Arden of New Zealand (37), Austria's Sebastian Kurtz (31), Rwanda's Paul Ka game was 43 (a rarity in Africa).

There is no substance in the claims that Chamisa is too young to lead the country. There is nothing wrong in Chamisa daring the country to dream big.

Why is that Zimbabwe and indeed Africa has the youngest population, yet it is led by old rulers (who should be retired)? If the young people dare challenge the status quo, they are threatened by the gun. If a 40 year old "kid" can successfully lead the world's largest economy, why not Africa, Go figure!


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All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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