By Dr Mathew Nyashanu
Lack of accountability, acceptance of incompetence and violence have exposed Zimbabwean citizens to extremely shrewd and unethical politicians whose main aim is to amass wealth; a practice that has been mainly a preserve of the ruling Zanu PF party where scandals have been the order of the day.
However, just a few weeks ago members of parliament (MPs) from the opposition soiled themselves by conniving with Zanu PF in taking large stashes of cash ostensibly under the guise of “loans”. The big question is where did the government get the money to give out to MPs when the Treasury is failing to fund basic requirements in education and health.
The controversy is an eye opener to the citizens of Zimbabwe on the ethical conduct of the present crop elected to parliament for both Zanu PF and the opposition. It is clear that the political system is under siege from wolves who were attracted to politics to line up their pockets at the expense of the citizens.
The millions of dollars that were shared in parliament by the political echelons could have gone a long way to buy medication and equipment for hospitals which have now been turned into death traps.
All these money laundering activities are being conceived and hatched in parliament where legislators are supposed to be discussing strategies to mitigate problems bedevilling citizens. This act is a clear testimony that the monetary policy in Zimbabwe has been torn and thrown in the dust bin. If this money was a loan as reported by the looters, why was it not given out through the right monetary loaning system like a bank to ensure accountability?
The reason for the unorthodox lending of money in parliament was to mitigate accountability and paying back of the so-called loans. This is not the first time that the Zimbabwean government has been involved in corrupt quasi-banking activities. Just recently they were running a clear money laundering scheme under the guise of the Command Agriculture (AG) where millions if not close to billions were being shared by politicians and their associates at the expense of the citizens.
At this point the opposition MPs were spot on as they vehemently opposed the selective processes that were in place to benefit Zanu PF politicians and their associates, but the voice from the opposition was silenced this time around as they were made to be accomplices in money laundering by Zanu PF.
The lessons that citizens need to learn from these corrupt practices by politicians who are supposed to be accountable to the electorate is that accountability and transparency should be a benchmark in electing new parliamentary representatives for both Zanu PF and the opposition in the 2023 elections.
Citizens should know that they are in part responsible for all these political scandals in parliament for selecting and electing political imposters whose main objective is to line up their pockets against a backdrop of a crashing economy. It is therefore important that citizens fully involve themselves in the political process of their country.
I have heard many friends tell me that they don’t want to be involved in politics, but they went on to tell me that things are difficult in Zimbabwe and I quickly reminded them that they are already involved in politics by merely questioning the economic difficulties they are experiencing. A responsible community of citizens values and prides their involvement in politics to determine their destiny.
Young people need to register for voting and use their voting power to install responsible politicians who represent their cause. The present crop of politicians has lost their moral compass and have forgotten who put them where they are today. The community of citizens need to know that they hold the keys to any political representation and have the responsibility of separating the chuff from the grain in the coming 2023 elections.
However, the involvement of citizens in politics is just one part of the jigsaw as there are other factors that can determine a fair and credible election; such factors include the creation of a conducive political climate to enable the holding of a free and fair election. This is purely a responsibility of the government and can be judged by using this benchmark.
All elections held under Zanu PF were hotly contested, for example the 2008 plebiscite resulted in forcing Zanu PF to go into a coalition government with the then MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite Zanu PF losing they refused to hand over power and engaged in one of the worst political violence where many people from the opposition lost their lives. Going forward, Zanu PF has to rethink its responsibility as a government and its quest for international acceptance which has become hitched in the political environment in Zimbabwe.
It is not enough for Zanu PF to argue acceptance into the international arena without providing a sensible political environment for all political parties of all persuasions to take part and endorse the process. Zanu PF has the opportunity once again to argue its case for international acceptance through action in the 2023 elections.
Let there be no political violence and fraudulent activities embedded in the purported independent electoral commission. Let there be no politically indoctrinated graduates from the Chitepo school ideology whose remit is to cause mayhem to the peace-loving citizens. Only then can Zanu PF start to see its acceptance by the international community and making Zimbabwe a lucrative destination for real international investors.
Zimbabwe does not need to enlist the services of Cyril Ramaphosa the South African president for it to be accepted by the international community or to purge it’s on citizens thinking that they are causing the sanctions. They simply need to uphold the international standards when transacting politics and own up to the laws and conditions that govern democratic elections.
Ethics in politics go beyond the internal political outlook in parties to affecting the health and well-being of communities. Over Christmas and New Year many people in Zimbabwe traditionally travel to their rural homes to share food and gifts with their beloved ones. It is painful to note that many of our friends and families will not be able to fulfil this obligation owing to the state of the economy and poor political practices where politicians are obsessed with lining up their pockets.
I want to challenge MPs from Zanu PF and the opposition to take a minute of silence on Christmas Day and think about the poor citizens who did not partake in their shame parliamentary loans and failed to travel back home to see their beloved ones because they cannot afford it. Take time and reflect on how you can turn yourself from being a rogue politician in 2022 to being a considerate servant of the citizens who will denounce turning the parliament into a quasi-financial institution bent on devouring the resources that are supposed to save the citizens.
In earnest, the citizens are going into this Christmas with a heavy heart while the politicians are celebrating. Is it not prudent that our politicians need to be accountable and understand their remit in parliament? They should desist from greedy tendencies and unethical practices that has exposed our citizens to one of the worst poverty everexperienced in Zimbabwe.
Let me take this time to warn opposition MPs and give them a piece of unsolicited advice. Don’t let yourselves be soiled by perennial looters when the destination for the rough journey citizens have travelled is nigh. Remember the citizens are watching you and will be either confirming or unconfirming you for the 2023 plebiscite candidature. Do not be accomplices where you are being diverted from your original cause of being in parliament and where you are being used to cover underworld activities of perennial looters.
To conclude this piece, I wish all the citizens a pleasant Christmas despite the odds. Let’s meet again next week when we discuss life-worthy issues closer to our hearts.
Dr Mathew Nyashanu is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Admissions tutor for the MA in Public Health. He is a Zimbabwean academic based in the institute of Health & Allied Professions at Nottingham Trent University. He is a social scientist and public health specialist who has contributed widely to the strengthening of Health systems in many low- and middle-income countries. The writings are purely his views and do not represent Nottingham Trent University. Dr Mathew Nyashanu can be contacted on the following email: email@example.com