Responsible leadership

I am not surprised at the latest round of in-party fighting in Zimbabwean political party life. I am not a fan of Joyce Mujuru and even less that of Didymus Mutasa as I have clearly stated before Regardless, I see this latest circus as another example of the kind of leadership we do not want. My immediate reaction was to say this is what happens when people coalesce around the idea of who they are against rather than what they stand for. Let’s come back to this point later.
Let me start by acknowledging that every Zimbabwean has a right to grow up dreaming to be President, declaring so and giving it a go. The standard “regime change agent” is merely a default response of the party in power to try and maintain its fast loosening hold on power. The Zimbabwean situation, though, is such that we have very little room for opportunistic mavericks. The sense of duty to the country should be such we cannot continue to subject the nation to circus after circus given the quagmire we find ourselves in. The tragicomedy that plays out with every opposition party is debilitating for citizens and we often hear the refrain that Zimbabweans are tired of political parties. I think they are tired of irresponsible leadership which then makes it difficult for leaders with real potential to change the country to present themselves for consideration before the electorate. The selfish public bickering and jostling for power is not just unbecoming, worse, it simply leaves Zimbabweans weary and this, I argue, is irresponsible. We know that opposition political parties can be infiltrated with a view to a split being engineered at the right moment and this is the reason why my second point becomes imperative.
Politics should be a contest of ideas on how best to advance a society. When leaders start organisations and come together because they are against something, you have potentially weak organisations held together by the thin cord of negative sentiment. What you ideally need is a strong chain of shared values and beliefs on the best way to implement solutions to the crisis we face. In the absence of this, opposition parties fail at the first real hurdle of a very competitive steeplechase. We saw this with the original split of the MDC and now, ironically in eerily very similar scenes of a leader holding a press conference at their house while the rest call one of their own, we have the same with Mujuru and ex-co. It is ridiculous.
In normal societies you have political parties of different persuasions vying for space in which to advance their ideas and so you will have a green party that is clear on what it stands for based on strongly held personal values on the environment that are common to the people in the group. Politics cannot be because we have the right sounding names or professions in the same room venting their anger at tyranny. Politics should be about a project for society. You hear football players giving an interview about why they have joined a club and they talk about believing in the project, winning titles and the appeal of the club philosophy. Before manifesto, there must be the crucial step of how that manifesto is going to be implemented. It is not enough to say, to pick a completely random example for illustration, you support freedom of worship but draw the line at Rastafarianism. It is a contradiction in terms and values and this is where a fissure turns in to a crack and eventually a gaping hole that swallows the opposition party while the ruling party gleefully looks on. The good have to be good at being good! This means robust debate in defence of values, consistent argument presented to the electorate who will then see for themselves who the genuine leaders are and those who are contrary.
The English are not necessarily the best example of democracy as far as their colonial history goes, and indeed as far as the anachronistic House of Lords goes, but how many times, in their parliament and party system do you see MPs resigning rather than vote against their conscience or values? How times do you hear of backbenchers rebelling against their leader because they choose to represent what they told their constituencies they were standing for? You don’t see the party implode after that do you? This is because it is a contest of ideas! Even when they fight for leadership positions, it is on the basis of a contest of ideas in the space of shared values.
Now look at the pitiful words coming out of Mujuru and ex-co. It is a joke that robs Zimbabweans of hope, of belief in the political system and does not serve the fight to restore Zimbabwe to a place of honour among the nations of the world any good.
Of course, it does not help that those of us who are critical, of both pseudo and real opposition, do not step up to the plate! We have work to do. Huge amount of work!
The next opposition party, because there surely will be one, should be one built on shared values, commonly held positions on every policy subject that affects the Zimbabwean people/economy and agreed strategy of implementation before they even present themselves to the people. Otherwise, implosion while ZanuPF continues to drag the country deeper in to the morass of underdevelopment.


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