|Is there any room at the top?|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 21:06|
Zimbabwe’s political landscape has been developing into a two-party system. But, many are asking whether there is room at the top? By this they mean whether a third, fourth or fifth party can contest the Presidency given the dominance of two parties at the moment.
Some analysts believe that a two-party race for the Presidency will offer a clear choice whereas; a third or fourth candidacy would be just for spoilers.
But politicians being what they are, ambitious people even if the situation is hopeless, will always dream about the notion of being in power.
In a two-party race, the electorate is offered a clear choice from the two candidates, especially, if the contest is for the two candidates in the only first race.
In one country, not long ago, there were 39 presidential candidates.
Surely, this is democracy running amok and confusing to the electorate.
Be that as it may, what can a third party offer the electorate?
Could it be a balance of power?
This scenario could arise if a third party concentrates on parliamentary elections whose outcome will normally be decided by local issues and the strength and visibility of a candidate.
Another aspect to consider if other parties want to compete in any election is to aspire to serve in local government structures.
In France, for example, politicians get their cutting teeth in local government elections before embarking onto the national apex of politics.
A politician has to be seen to be capable of serving well in the local government structures by being efficient in service delivery.
The problem in Zimbabwe is that many aspiring politicians believe that there is no donor money if one competes in city or district elections.
What this means is that, unless one stands as a candidate on a national level of elections, donor funding will not be forthcoming.
Why donor money at the national election level?
One politician said donors would come in if they are convinced that your platform in any election is to oust the ruling party.
This obsession with removing the governing party from power resonates well with foreign funders or NGOs.
Therefore the proliferation of parties towards election time is to do with trying to get money although the ability to get elected may be impossible.
Another aspect that one politician revealed, on being asked what his party’s programme could be during an election, was that all he wanted was to get into power to help himself to make money while in power.
On being told that going into government is to serve and not to make money, he said there were other means of influence that he could apply in order to make money.
This conversation I had with this politician could be an isolated case but, there are those who believe that money can be made when one is in Government.
Why not go into business if one wants to make money? It goes to prove that many who want to get into power are just opportunists with a penchant for corruption.
It is not a secret that those in government, like politicians and civil servants are poorly paid but there are some who think that getting into politics is synonymous with getting rich.
There are many politicians who are successful businesspeople.
The reason they are in politics is not to rule, but to serve the people who elected them.
This must be the criteria for anyone who wants to hold a public office. So, those parties that are vying for national office, should first prove their credentials in local government structures.
If their performance in service delivery to the people is good then they can claim that they are ready for national office. From what we have seen so far, performance of politicians in local government structures leaves a lot to be desired.
Therefore, new parties and old parties can compete on equal footing to convince the people at grassroots that service delivery would improve.
A proliferation of parties at local government level would be most welcome.
At national level, what is happening now where two parties dominate may be a good thing. Smaller parties should not spoil the broth but concentrate on what is achievable in local government.
At local government, recognition of a name rather than the party could be advantageous. The obsession with electing a party for its own sake instead of an individual has caused havoc at local government level. It is not just name recognition but what that particular person can offer.
The next local government elections will be very interesting after ten years of poor service delivery by local councils. No council can claim lack of money when residents religiously pay their rates for properties and water charges.
The major problem has been that those politicians that have been elected to serve in councils see themselves as governing at the national level. Some even go to the extent of pretending that there are as important as politicians at the national level.
It is not my idea to bar anyone from aspiring for high office in the land but to be practical about our political situation where there is much criticism of other people without offering any alternatives to improve lives of people.
It is better to work with the people at the bottom level of our governing structures rather aim at the top where there is no room for smaller parties.