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Zimbabwe: The nature of our politics
03/05/2014 00:00:00
by Moses Chamboko
 
 
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UNLESS one aspires to be head of State for the Vatican City, the smallest independent state on planet earth both in terms of population and landmass that is ruled by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), one must be prepared for gruelling competition in their bid for tenancy at State House. Such competition often comes in different forms, some of them quite ugly, especially in Africa and some parts of Asia as well as South America. This is simply a narration of vices, not a justification. Winners must win fairly and deliver on promises. Losers must remember that a democratic struggle is never a lifetime career.

By its very nature, politics is a very competitive game where bruised losers mourn while proud winners smile. Those who win today, in a democratic dispensation, are not guaranteed of the same result tomorrow. If they snooze on the wheel, a new driver will emerge and take charge, at times from the passenger seat!

People often decide who to vote for based on how convincing their policies are. At times all it takes is merely convincing as quite a number of winners end up abandoning their policies as soon as they land into office. Others win based on personal popularity, even if their performance is mediocre.

In Zimbabwe, two million jobs were promised less than 9 months ago yet thousands have been lost between July 31st and now. Dozens of companies are closing shop weekly. Unemployment has reached its climax. When will ZCTU relocate its head office to Mupedzadnhamo or Magaba in order to maintain some semblance of relevance? I doubt if anybody really knows our exact unemployment rate except to guess that those formally employed are now less than 20%. Elsewhere, a double-digit unemployment rate is enough to eject a leader from national office, what a dichotomy!

A common survival tactic in the political toolbox is to expose an opponent’s weaknesses and capitalise on their errors, at the slightest opportunity. It is all about outmanoeuvring your competitors and presenting yourself as an alternative. There is totally nothing wrong with this. Failure to formulate and articulate key policies is a sure trip to the exit door. However, violence, rigging, intimidation and vote buying, in truly democratic environments, are anathema, which often attract heavy penalties.

Infiltration is also tactfully employed by some using all sorts of inducements. In poor economies or environments where people have an insatiable appetite for artificial affluence such as Zimbabwe has become, it is not difficult to find takers.



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Given these realities, it is therefore quite ominous that some political players are quick to cry foul and point fingers whenever their house or performance is in disarray. Competitors are not there to make life easy for their opponents. In a game of soccer, defenders will be stupid to blame opposition strikers for scoring crucial goals at decisive moments. The defence should always do what it is employed to do; to stop strikers from slipping through or creating deadly chances. Blaming neighbours for one’s own failures is never a solution to any problem and never will it be.

Zanu PF’s mantra that all problems are located in the West and its local puppets is now soporific. We have heard enough of squabbles in the MDC-T caused by CIO and/or Zanu PF while issues in MDC (Ncube) are traceable to tribalism. Come on Zimbabweans, let’s grow up! If we are not fit to play the political game, let’s just walk away from the pitch or forfeit points without even wasting anybody’s time. The time to focus on progressive policies and a transformative agenda is now. We cannot continue to blame everybody else except ourselves. Let us introspect, act honestly and clear our self-made mess.

Lastly, just prior to Easter, Barry O’Farrell, premier for New South Wales (Australia), disgracefully lost his job after he was quizzed by the anti-corruption commission over his acceptance of a “gift” of a pricey bottle of wine from an acquaintance seeking business favours. In our backyard, for demanding $165 million from Zanu PF funder Billy Rautenbach as “facilitation fees” which is a euphemism for kick-backs, Temba Mliswa was never asked to report to the police, not even to the anti-corruption commission just to explain the nature of his “facilitation”. Unless we start acting decisively on corruption and impunity, Zimbabwe shall perennially sit on her potential, wastefully and miserably.

Moses Chamboko is interim Secretary General for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). He writes in his personal capacity. You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email info@zunde.org


 
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