A nation in dire straits, failed by bad politics

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I BELONG to Zimbabwe and am inextricably bound to this land. Regardless of the perceived or actual imperfections the country has, this will always and forever be my home. Like many other Zimbabweans, I’m heavily invested in this country, and together with other them, hold a stake in Zimbabwe and its destiny.
That said, the Zimbabwe I see is far from perfect. The problems the country is facing have been well-documented and there is little need if any at all to dwell on these. What has become apparent however is that we are increasingly becoming a society that would rather focus on the problems without necessarily discussing or offering solutions to the myriad of challenges we face. What’s needed is definitive leadership that would outline in broad strokes the path the country should take in navigating its way out of the quagmire it presently finds itself in.
Many have lost faith in our politicians and, more generally, the political system in its entirety. Just a quick glance at any of the local dailies paints a rather sad story; political leaders living in plenty, enriching themselves with impunity at the expense of the masses they claim to serve. This just shows how these political elites have lost connection with the generality of the people, and how bereft of genuine leaders our country is. Faced with these realities, one cannot really blame the people for their general apathy when it comes to our politics.
This however, is unfortunate as Zimbabwe is a republic which, by definition, is a State in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives. As such the obligation of charting the course the country should take is incumbent upon the political leaders who represent the people of their constituencies.  When our politics fail therefore, the nation fails. Hard as it may be to take in, this is the fact. A dearth in leadership at the top will inevitably give way to a dysfunctional socio-economic system.
When a sitting Member of Parliament makes unwarranted claims that the Zimbabwean dollar will be re-introduced and in so doing disturbs the financial markets with such potentially volatile pronouncements, one questions if the leader truly has the interests of the people at heart. When people jostle for power in messy internal politics instead of focusing on core issues affecting the well-being of most Zimbabweans, it beggars belief as to how those very same people can claim to represent the people.Advertisement

Name-calling and hurling of insults at each other hardly serves any meaningful purpose other than to divert the people’s attention from the real issues that are affecting them. Yet it seems this is what our politicians mostly excel at; shouting the loudest away from the corridors of power. Yet in the House of Assembly, where their voices matter the most, they are found dozing off instead of participating in constructive debate to shape the country’s future. Interesting too is how easily politicians can major in the minors by focusing on issues such as renaming institutions and monuments. While these may be noble undertakings, they are really not bread and butter issues that warrant the time and resources spent on them. The people need jobs, food on the table, access to better healthcare; matters that have a direct bearing on the quality of their lives.
Deplorable as all this may be it is discouraging that even beyond our borders; such malfeasance seems to be prevalent. Recently in Zambia two deputy ministers were relieved of their duties on the back of corruption charges against them. In South Africa the so-called ‘Nkandlagate’ where President Zuma is alleged to have used state funds to renovate his rural homestead has been making the headlines. Perhaps a more apt example is that of the late Democratic Republic of Congo President Mobutu Sese Seko who established a highly authoritarian regime and singularly amassed a vast personal fortune when his country was mired in massive currency devaluations, inflation and general economic deterioration. That there has been no recipient of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in the last three years seems to underscore how generally we, as Africans, are lacking in good governance and leadership.
Bringing the argument back home, there is a dire need for those who hold the reins of power to reconnect with the general populace and direct their efforts to protecting and to serving. The political elitism syndrome needs to be dealt away with as a matter of urgency.  We are all created equal! Yes there are many who did not “fight” the liberation war, but that does not make them lesser human beings than those who “fought” the war. What all Zimbabweans want is a functioning government based upon inclusive politics that truly have the people at heart. Frankly, there is no place here for self serving politicians who are only visible in their constituencies when elections are drawing near. The opposition’s shadow cabinet has to be visible more than just on paper and be relevant by offering alternative policies and strategies and thereby ensuring a vibrant democracy.
As long as our leaders fail to uphold the true duties of their public offices, the republic’s perfection will be stalled. Zimbabwe cannot be held to ransom by a select few people who further their own gains while the rest of the people struggle under economic hardship. The current crop of politicians, regardless of party affiliation, need to touch base with the true duty of service and realise that they are involved in processes and institutions that are bigger than themselves. They need to appreciate that the decisions they make have far-reaching implications and that they, therefore, hold the fate of many in their hands.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful land with untold potential. However, as long as our politicians continue on their current path this potential will never be realised. Of course, this does not hold true for all our politicians as, without the need to mention names, there are some who have served the people with distinction. It is commendable that this breed of leaders exists and they are to be emulated.
Nations have risen and fallen as a direct result of the quality of the leadership and it is imperative for good governance and leadership to reign in this land if Zimbabwe is to develop. Furthermore, the present brand of “winner takes all” politics which in my opinion is at the root of the unnecessary political headwinds we have had to witness needs to be revised going forwards.