Nicole Hondo Correspondent
The last national elections in Zimbabwe were held in July 2018 and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu-PF emerged victorious with a majority win. Upon assumption of office, the Second Republic President’s first call was for unity and common purpose towards restoring Zimbabwe to its former glory and beyond. “Thank you Zimbabwe. I am humbled to be elected President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe. Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning. Let us join hands in peace, unity and love and together build a new Zimbabwe for all,” he said.
Some political actors unfortunately took this call for unity as a sign of weakness and embarked on a grandstanding spree intended to keep their political lives healthy. Refreshingly, however, those of a sober, selfless and servant nature have taken up the call to unite and together shape a prosperous future for Zimbabwe. In this vein, the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) will be launched this Friday, May 17 2019 at the Harare International Conference Centre, marking a new mature and productive trajectory for Zimbabwe’s politics.
Polad provides a platform for the exchange of differing political ideas and opinions in a peaceful and respectful environment and will be co- convened by respected National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) chairperson Justice Sello Nare and Gender Commission chairperson Margaret Sangarwe- Mukahanana.
It is not in dispute that Zimbabwe is undergoing economic and social challenges hence the need for a holistic and unified approach to dealing with these challenges in keeping with the Shona adage “rume rimwe harikombe churu”. Some have rightly argued that it is the “big man” attitude in previous decades that culminated in the country’s stockpile of economic problems which President Mnangagwa is now fixing.
The aspect of national dialogue or unification of different political ideologies is not new or unique to Zimbabwe, neither is it a failure on the President or other participants’ part; it’s a sign of political maturity and selflessness, simple.
Kenya is a recent shining example of the power of rational and constructive politics. In March, Kenya’s top political rivals — President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga — launched a joint push for national unity. Addressing Kenyan media at the event, Odinga said “the reality is, we need to save our children from ourselves. We refuse to be leaders under whose watch Kenya slid into a failed nation.”
This marked a significant and welcome turn of events in Kenya’s politics, coming against a backdrop of escalating political tensions over electoral polls. Since then, the two political actors have been advancing Kenya’s interests in an environment of peace and prosperity, having avoided unnecessary bloodshed in the process.
Further afield, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, is in talks with the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, as that country grapples with Brexit. It would be hugely amiss therefore for any political actor in Zimbabwe to seek to portray the call for national dialogue and participation in Polad as a sign of failure on anyone’s part.
It is time for all political actors in the country to realise that the “inini chete” type of politics is retrogressive and keeps nations stuck in rhetoric. Dialogue is not a privilege or entitlement, it is a national duty. Unlike the early Greek form of democracy where everyone congregated to form policies and govern, Zimbabwe has a system where few individuals are elected to represent others, be it at local party level or national level. If one is such an elected leader or political actor, it is in the best interests of those who elected them to explore every avenue available to advance the country’s development, including dialogue with political rivals.
National Constitutional Assembly leader and POLAD participant Professor Lovemore Madhuku recently quipped: “If those who are not involved in the dialogue have some solutions, why are they happy to see people suffering and the only time they will provide solutions is if they are in Government?”
Indeed, it is time for all political actors to hang their campaign boots and work for the people who elected them to whatever office they currently hold. Ten months after elections, the time for politicking and electioneering is past. It’s time to build Zimbabwe.