The good thing about choice is it is mostly free. You choose a political party of your liking and get the government you deserve. Well, sometimes that government is foisted upon you through vote rigging but by and large free choice is the rule. So, having declared that, I must nevertheless say that, for many, choice is influenced by experience, debate and moral suasion. Not everyone has a “position” and political parties and commentators alike also exist to persuade people on the strength of their ideas rather than on position. So here goes my bit.
I am very concerned that, faced with the juggernaut that ZanuPF has proven to be and the ardent desire to be rid of the economic meltdown in the country, Zimbabweans may opt for the nearest solution instead of the best one. A drowning man will clutch at straws when a few extra splashes in a desperate effort could yield a better result with the tree branch that is a few metres further away. I am worried that the straw Zimbabweans are increasingly reaching out to is the MDC-People First straw for reasons I will state below.
Firstly, as I have stated before Zimbabwe People First is a political party born out of individuals expelled from the ZanuPF gravy train. Its leading members have not only hounded successful business people out of the country, as in the glaring case of Joyce Mujuru vs Strive Masiyiwa, but have also been implicated in election violence in the case of Didymus Mutusa. This man who helped persecute imaginary enemies when he was Minister of State Security once said, “The only people who may not be secure are those people who are causing these problems because we will not spare them. And if it came to a position where we have to eliminate them physically because of what they are doing, then it is their fault, that is what they are looking for, and we will not hesitate to do that.” Zimbabweans must seriously ask themselves why they would even consider voting for a political party led by these two individuals for starters.
Then of course, the MDC demonstrated its inability to stay focused during the short lived government of national unity. Members of parliament demonstrated an appetite for the good life debating car purchase loans instead of rebuilding the nation. Granted, and we have to always be objective, the MDC did stand up to ZanuPF for a long time and were robbed of the opportunity to form a majority government. But with the rush to get in to power, they made fateful decisions for the nation’s future which meant, in the end, that our restoration to former gory was once again indefinitely postponed. The many splits of the MDC, and especially the reasons for them, tell you what kind of government you would be dealing with if they were in power.
We really cannot afford to make this mistake again.
Zimbabweans must be prepared to not only completely break with the past but also to overhaul the system completely. This means considering electing a new team who publicly commit to a new set of core values for the restoration of the nation. I am not talking moral values here as I do not subscribe to the narrow conservative strait jacket that constrains our country from leaping forward. Bill Clinton, for instance was a brilliant President for the US. By core values, I am talking about the following national values.
Freedom: “Nation above government, truth above power.”
This was a slogan during Egypt’s struggle for liberation way before the Arab spring (for the avoidance of doubt). The biggest failing in Zimbabwe has been the inability of citizens to speak truth to power both within their own political organisations and as citizens to government. Until now, at least and even then, we are struggling to stand up to bullying. We have organisations that have been led by the same individuals for ages both in government and opposition parties and when said individuals have met with challenge, they have changed the rules to their benefit. How do we expect these individuals to embody the new society we want?
A favourite of mine. What is the point in getting in to power if it is not to serve and help raise the lot of our people? Surely any sane leader would understand that the best way to get re-elected is to first serve? Is there simply no pleasure in seeing our people rise along the economic road to financial security first and prosperity for the more enterprising? Where does this predatory behaviour that treats the poor with disdain come from? You cannot create solidarity unless you have an economically powerful nation and this will only come because the leadership is driven by the fervent desire to see the lot of our people and nation transform.
Peace is not necessarily the absence of war. Where there is no justice, there is simply no peace. A sense of uncertainty grips and paralyses the nation. Zimbabwe’s history is steeped in blood and unless we close and heal this chapter with judicial reparations we are doomed to remain a divided nation. A divided nation cannot thrive and Zimbabwe needs a leadership that will galvanise the entire nation rather than one that thrives on divide and rule. We simply have to provide for reparations for Ghukurahundi and, in my mind, that means a dedicated infrastructure programme that will lift the regions that were affected. It also means dealing with the other violence of the recent past from Murambatsvina to election violence. It means teaching our people that you never beat up any individual simply because you do not agree who he chooses to vote for or simply because some man in a suit or t-shirt asks you to!
Fellow Zimbabweans, I simply do not see the current opposition parties offering us any of these core values for Zimbabwe and I base this on their leadership track record both while in opposition or government. We have to make very wise decisions in 2018, decisions that allow our country to break with the past once and for all and set itself on the path to full economic, social and intellectual restoration. Hasten slowly, wait for the third way to emerge.
Leaders who believe in solidarity will develop an economic blue print that responds to those values for housing and the type of housing, for jobs and the conditions under which those jobs are provided, for public services and the quality of delivery thereof, for small business and the kind of support required for it to thrive, for government and the kind of enabling environment it needs to create for the nation to compete and succeed. Don’t go for popular. Go for strong core values! This, my dear fellow Zimbabweans is the third way.