Nick Mangwana View from the Diaspora
There is a lot of talk of the 2018 elections. These elections are dispensational in that according to the Constitution, that is President Mugabe’s last term.
Whichever side one is, there is no taking away his iconic role as the nation’s founding leader and possibly its ever longest serving one as well.
So there is a lot of talk of the 2018 elections. But strangely despite the talk, there is actually not much excitement.
Somehow people have been moved into apathy. This is not for want of the political parties’ efforts to generate the absent enthusiasm. The blame for this is found in both the ruling and opposition parties.
The opposition has been given an opportunity to compete, but has failed to be effective. The major opposition, which Zanu-PF has to contend, with is the economy and its own so called blue-on-blue contacts. It also has to contend with the accusation of corruption, which seems to be escalating unabated.
The opposition’s strength has diminished. The MDC used to be strong, but they lost the goodwill of the people and now are repeating tired mantras. Their message has been a static ‘Mugabe must go!’ One cannot emphasise the self-defeating strategy by the opposition of recalling the opposition and giving the seats to Zanu-PF.
No matter how one looks at that decision, it does not make any sense. Then two years later, people are signing worthless documents they call MoUs to seize the power they donated to Zanu-PF. How does that surely work?
One wonders how this is expected to enkindle their supporters. The best way an opposition shows its strength is in the legislature. So the spiteful decision is baffling today as it was then.
It seems Zanu-PF has more tolerance of opposition parties than those who see other parties just as a means to an end. In their own words; “just tributaries”. But we have to live with pluralism and not the idea of trying to have an oppositional “one party state”.
The acceptance of a pluralistic political framework has enabled Zimbabwe to have a plethora of political parties, whose business is to sign MoUs with Mr Tsvangirai.
There is now an easy way of getting the proverbial Kodak moment. Just unfurl a political banner and say you have a party and Mr Tsvangirai will call you to his house to sign an MoU and make you a tributary.
We want popular participation in the electoral process of our country. But that has to start with respect of the constitutional institution of ZEC.
What we are seeing is gross interference. Parties want to tell ZEC which employees to have and which not to have. They focus on the employment history of ZEC employees and such other interferences.
If a political party is now setting the employment criteria for ZEC employees, then we have a problem with independence of the institution.
Turning a referee into an enemy is not the best way of winning a match. We cannot infuse constitutionalism into our polity if we don’t respect our own institutions.
When we say they are independent, let’s leave them to do their job. If we feel they are acting outside the letter or spirit of their constitutional foundation, let us fight that at law.
It is difficult to win elections when your whole message is based on either ethnic or historical resentment. There are things that happened during the formative years of our independence, which should not have happened. But to try to win an election based on the teething problems of nation building and hate is not the way to go.
The day the opposition will fight an election based on a positive message is the day they will stand a chance of winning. People are tired of negative messages. They want to hear a vision. Positive and forward looking politics. But at the moment we see sustained donor pressure attack on the ruling party, with no solution at all.
What exactly will the opposition do to alleviate cash shortages? Please don’t tell the nation that they will build a $100 billion economy in 100 days. That is just high sounding baloney.
The opposition’s negative message is off-key. Zimbabwe is at a point where it needs a inspiration. The nation is crying for fervour. The kind we had in 1980, which saw people arriving in their numbers from the Diaspora, taking pay cuts to contribute to the nation building project.
This is what is needed in our country. Not the hubristic self-centred politics we currently see. Now the latter is not only a problem in the opposition. The ruling party is embroiled in a bitter power struggle and factionalism.
That surely cannot inspire anyone. So there is no coherent opposition offering an alternative to the ruling party, but equally the ruling party is engaged in never-seen-before shredding and counter shredding of each other. The message coming out of its quarters has never been more discordant.
It started as personal and now its personal and ideological. Leaders discrediting their own Government policies and each other.
Some of the policy questioning that is played out in the media is so shocking that there is nothing amiss in asking whether it is not right to make these people backbenchers, where they have some freedom to ask the Executive some questions.
For surely they cannot be members of the said Executive. As if it’s not enough, the indiscipline is now pervading ministries. Institutions within a ministry are fighting their own ministers. Now let the observer ask why they would vote in the 2018 elections.
What will inspire the Diasporans to travel to Zimbabwe and partake in both their civic and democratic duty of choosing the next Government?
Which tune does the fencesitter dance to when there is no inspiration in the off-key tunes?
Only 24 percent of the people voted in the Chiundura election last week. This is serious apathy. The electorate needs revitalisation so they can play their part. But it is quite sad that inspiration is so much in short supply at the moment.
This writer’s party is brilliant in mobilisation. So crowds will gather and on election day, it will get its requisite numbers to win with a landslide.
But the truth which has to be confronted is that despite dutifully voting for their party, is anyone really inspired? Zanu-PF has very loyal supporters and members who want their party to deliver after the victory.
On the other side, the opposition does not inspire the people that it will end hardship. Frankly, maybe neither does the ruling party, with its ever escalating internecine feuds which now affect policy.
There is a lack of sensitivity to the needs of the people in our polity. This is across the political aisle. No honest person can say that the opposition has been sensitive to the needs of the people under its jurisdictions in local authorities.
One can play silly politics, but the truth is that there has been both incompetence, dishonesty and profligacy in opposition-run councils.
Equally, the Auditor-General’s reports have also reflected the same maladies in State enterprises and institutions under the purview of ruling party ministers. This is what makes the Zimbabwean people conclude that with this lot on offer, they are stuffed and show their disapproval by not voting at all.
Our politics is also so partisan and polarised that supporters on both sides have an attitude that says that their leadership can do no wrong.
As loyal as such an attitude may sound, it is quite unhelpful as there is no honest interrogation of national challenges once people entrench in partisan fortresses.
Then there is the issue of self-enrichment by the elite. This has been covered so much in this column that in order to avoid over-harping, it would suffice to say, institutions are failing to effect their oversight role on transparent use of resources.
This has had the effect of either demoralising the voter or inspiring them to try to take direct regulatory role in order to fill the gap that has been left by the moribund institutions.
This has left the State uneasy, but if institutions do what they are supposed to do, we would not be at this point where the citizen wants to play a direct role outside the voting duty.
Our elections should be exciting and inspiring to voters, but they are not.
The opposition has fallen far short of what a credible opposition should be.
They have lacked integrity, grit and greatness.
The level of mediocrity has failed to catalyse a fire in the bellies of their supporters.
On the side of the ruling party, the biggest problem has been disloyalty and treacherous dissent.
This has manifested itself in debilitating factionalism.
There is no way to sugar coat the sad reality that governmental function is being paralysed by the fight to control the party or get into strategic position in preparation for succeeding the incumbent.
The public spats have also caused some disillusionment among the party membership.
This cannot continue. Something has to surely give.