Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga says the millennials will rid the country of the hatred and bitterness exhibited by the current crop of politicians who are selfish and think they are bigger than Zambia.

Responding to a press query, Tuesday, Mwaanga expressed confidence that the next generation of leaders would be more tolerant.

“No matter how good or godly a leader may be, there comes a time when they must hand over power to the next generation. There is an African saying to the effect that no matter how good a dancer you may be, you must know when to leave the stage. It is always better to leave the stage when the audience is still clapping, rather than when the audience starts booing you. There are many young men and women who deserve to be leaders in government and in their political parties. It would be folly for me to give advice to young people that leadership is easy. It is not easy to lead diverse societies and people. There will be pitfalls and there will be times when you will stumble and even fall. When this happens, please get up and dust yourselves up and continue your journey. I have great hope that the next generation of leaders will be more tolerant of dissenting views. I am confident that they will embrace the spirit of dialogue and debate and rid our country of the current hatred and bitterness, which is prevalent among the current crop of politicians, who think that they are more important and bigger than Zambia,” Mwaanga said.

“I have interacted with young men and women in different professions and engaged them in discussions on the future of our country, long after my generation has gone to the land of the silent. I am privileged to have grown up at a time when we had legendary figures like our first President Dr Kenneth Kaunda and others, who took a keen interest in mentoring young people for future leadership in whom they saw potential. I benefitted from their scheme of things, in that even during the struggle for independence, I was given leadership roles at a very young age and even sent abroad for conferences and youth leadership programmes to the United States of America, Britain, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Sweden, Italy and Ethiopia. At independence in October 1964, at the age of 20, I was appointed Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and promoted to the rank Ambassador to the Soviet Union, now Russia, at the age of 21 years. The rest as the saying goes, is now history.”

He said despite millennials lacking mentorship on leadership, they were more tolerant to divergent views than current politicians.

“The young men and women growing up at this time, have not had this privilege of being mentored by accomplished people, with only a few exceptions. The young people of today are by far, better educated in their diverse professions. They concentrate on perfecting their professions and looking after their families. They face many challenges in a constantly changing world, which demands that they acquire relevant skills and abilities, which are required to build modern societies and economies. It is a cruel fact that our institutions of higher learning, are not capable of absorbing all the young people leaving our secondary school systems and many of them are squeezed out of the school system. I am painfully aware that youth unemployment has become a very serious problem in Zambia, Africa and the World and both the African Union and the United Nations, have described it as a time bomb waiting to explode. It is this pool of unemployment youth, including the educated ones, who cannot find jobs, who are being used by irresponsible politicians to ferment political violence,” said Mwaanga.

“Violence is unproductive and primitive. I have seen truckloads of these young people being transported to areas where there are elections or by elections proudly displaying their panga’s, machetes and other weapons of violence. Violence in whatever form is an enemy of our hard-won democracy and should not under any circumstances be glorified. The older generation has a duty to preach love and against violence in all its manifestations twenty-four hours a day. It leads to injuries and even deaths and should not have any space in the political fabric of our country. Many of our youth are also frustrated by statements being made with sickening monotony by political leaders telling them “you are the leaders of tomorrow’, without giving them any leadership roles at all. If anything, many of them show no signs of relinquishing leadership. They instead amend constitutions to prolong their stay in leadership. The older generation has got a sacred duty not to overstay in power, so that leadership goes through a necessary process of renewal.”