Time for politics with a conscience


Nick Mangwana Correspondent
One of the most iconic revolutionary songs that encapsulated the ideals of the liberation struggle but also the value system of the revolution was a song which some have given the title “Nzira Dzemasoja”. This can be loosely interpreted as “The Ways of the Revolutionary Soldier”. Its lyrics include the following which is also loosely translated here. Kune nzira dzemasoja dzekuzvibata nadzo (there is a way for a revolutionary soldier to behave)

Tererai mitemo yose nenzira dzakanaka (Abide well by all laws and rules)

Tisave tinotora zvinhu zvemass yedu (Let us not deprive our people of their possessions)

Dzorerai zvinhu zvose zvatorwa kumuvengi (Return all you have taken from the enemy)

Taurai zvine tsika kuruzhinji rwevanhu (Speak with decorum to the population)

Kuti Mass inzwisise zvakananga Musangano (So the people can understand the goodness of the Party)

Bhadharai zvamunotenga nenzira dzakanaka (Pay well for all you buy)

Mudzorere zvinhu zvese zvamunenge matora (Pay back all you borrow).

This song and its meaning did all the commissariat work during the liberation struggle.

For every combatant that behaved in a way that was being epitomised by the song always had the masses onside.

They easily won the hearts and minds of the people and the people would gladly put themselves in harm’s way to protect their liberator.

It made the masses identify with the revolution and were prepared to sacrifice their all to make the objectives come to fruition. And true to expectation, those objectives were realised.

This was because of the legitimation of the revolution by having the people buy into it. Whoever did not identify with it was the pariah and the social misfit. And some even died because they lost the camouflage of the people, compromising their goodwill by their cruelty to the masses.

Zanu-PF was so built on the same ethos and values in this song.

It was a song which in short called for a revolution with a conscience. Its main objectives have always been to protect the weak and vulnerable.

Its politics has always been the politics of conscience. The question to ask in Zimbabwe right now is do we still have a conscience in politics?

When a politician campaigns, it is normally about appealing to the self-interest of the voter. Now for one to do that there has to be the voter’s need to meet.

If there is no need then the politician has no relevance. So the more basic the need of the populace, the lower the threshold of fulfilment. For example, some just need to buy a few loaves of bread, a few bottles of fizzy drinks and they are assured of someone’s vote. But if these basic needs had been met, then the politics reach a more developmental level.

Are our politicians taking advantage of the poverty to remain relevant when the time comes to dish out banal handouts?

There is a need to move to a higher development level from the basic self-interest to more global issues of common good.

When a nation attains that higher degree of development, then politicians cannot come offering sweet-nothings to get a vote from the population. They have to come with a big idea. Something more revolutionary. It all becomes about ideological commitments.

But when a nation participates in depriving its vulnerable of these very basics then it’s a nation without a conscience.

All those in Government and those in the August houses and those out of everyone of these institutions know that the first role of a government is to protect its citizens.

In saying that, a government shall do its citizens no harm. It shall also prevent harm from visiting its people even if it were their fault. The government has and had a role to protect those that were conned by land barons due to the neglect of local councils.

They are the real victims in all land scams that took place in Harare. Protecting them is politics with a conscience.

It is not a cliché to say that any society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members.

Some of these are the vendors and the squatters. The Zimbabwean society is not fairing very well. It is coming across as heartless, insensitive and without a conscience.

Politicians are not all inherently selfish. Politics is not all about manipulation of the population even if it does them harm.

Someone who is not selfish has to be the voice of the people. Social order is all good. But it has to come with social sensitivity. Without that then there is no morality in politics.

Morality in politics is about the protection of the individual and not protection of a system; for once you protect the individual, you protect the system. It is like in elementary biology. You have tissues and many of them make an organ, many organs working together in tandem make a system. Politicians have both an implied and an explicit social commitment to the people they represent and lead.

Somebody defined conscience as an intuitive emotional and moral compass.

You put a collection of congruent moral compasses together, you end up with moral values. Zanu-PF is a party which is meant to be a collection of people with the same moral values whose view of the world is congruent. This is a sense of right and wrong. There is an absolute wrong. This is wrong which no matter who one is, they will see it as wrong. Then there is as a relative wrong.

A relative wrong is one that is subjective. Those who believe in moral values being relative say that a conscience is a matter of moral perception.

Individuals have their moral framework. It is these that can be viewed together with the political views.

These political views should be those of championing the cause of the poor. But callous treatment of the poor is an absolute wrong. And this is not an idealism.

Every party should reflect on what motivates it towards the attainment of power. Is it for power for the sake of it or for the sake of making a positive difference or to use that power to access certain privileges which are difficulty to attain without it?

A legalistic way of looking at things is just whether something is legally correct or not. And if they are legally correct then they should be right. No, it should not be like that. You can have things that are legally correct but morally wrong. Throwing a mother with a young baby on the street on a rainy day might have a legal basis but it’s not only inhuman but morally wrong. And this is a universally agreed moral position unless one is evil.

Every politician should now examine their conscience and check on what motivates them. For if it is not to uplift society then their motivations are purely selfish. Whilst political parties can enjoy a lot of diversity of views within their ranks, there shouldn’t be a diversity of value systems. The core moral reasoning should be in sync and symmetrical to the ideology.

It is those who have no conscience who go to the poor with sweet-nothings to look for their votes and then disappear for the next four and half years and only to emerge with worthless trivia looking for another vote. Strangely enough, poverty has amnesia and as forgiving as it is, it will forgive and move on.

So comrades, whether it is politically expedient or not, there are actions that are socially and morally odious and detestable.

One of those is to put people on the street during the rainy season. An honest faculty of reasoning refuses to accept that there is a justifiable explanation under the sun that will make that right.

Clearly, when this was done there was an effort to mitigate the pain, but the pain was wrongly inflicted and the process too brutal.

It takes a big effort to fuel up a bulldozer and then it travels a long and painstaking journey with the ultimate reason to visit destruction against a property without making sure somebody’s worldly possessions have somewhere to go and children who were going to school can still go to school tomorrow. That is politics without conscience. On this action, this very action, someone is breaking rank. For it is wrong.

Who are the true victims here? Desperation for shelter caused people to be vulnerable, therefore be duped and fleeced by very wicked people.

These are the real victims. Not the State because it is its land. Not the city fathers. It is those that are losing twice over that are suffering a double jeopardy.

Authorities have an obligation to curb anarchy and lawlessness. But what do they say about tampering judgment with mercy for citizens.

Isn’t this where it is pertinent to say every Zimbabwean matters or nobody matters at all?

In any society, priority should be given to moral considerations than legal ones. If there is incongruence between the two, then the legal considerations should give way and be altered for people cannot just change their way of seeing a wrong to be a right because a law that is a relic of the colonial era says so.

How can people sleep soundly at night unless they are inherently heartless?

Zimbabwe is done with politicians that lack the impulses of empathy and sympathy.

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