Is Nelson Chamisa Too Young to be President?

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.

Nelson Chamisa

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 ins titutions 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 Emmerson
Mnangagwa, 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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  1. louis

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