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Sunday Digest: Zimbabwe, the quest for new kind of politics

By Conrad Mwanza


I have always been fascinated by the impact carried by words sharing a vision. They seem to come with an extra urgency that is not found in ordinary conversation. This is because a vision is often borne out of a deeper place which harbours dreams and ambition and when a person shares their vision they are possibly at their most animated and determined state of mind.

One of the best known speeches in the world is “I have a dream” which was delivered by Dr Martin Luther King Jr in August 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. So timely and impassioned was the speech to the extent that the phrase “I have a dream..” itself has become synonymous with the late civil rights activist and pastor. The speech has become a reference point for many because it highlights the audacity of hope, a dare to dream of better days despite the odds surrounding one.

I have often marvelled at how that speech has managed to remain relevant to so many generations in shaping the world. Perhaps it is because everyone dreams and whenever dreams are shared it gives an affirmation and conviction to the speaker that no matter how outrageous, the dream may yet come to pass. Maybe it is because I also have a dream and have discovered through conversation and observation that it is a dream most Zimbabweans also share.

This is what often leads me to ponder on the steps we can take and desire to see our politicians put up a new way of doing politics that deviates from the polarising ways of yesteryear politics where it is party over progress and political affiliation over merit.

It is my call to beseech all political leaders to work, if not together, but at least for one common cause which is to build Zimbabwe rather than score political points over each other at the expense of progress and development. We should ideally have leaders who lead the way in calling people to work together, a ruling party that engages and harnesses the vast talents of all Zimbabweans beyond and across the political divide.

We long to see an opposition that actively offers solutions and motivated to improve people’s welfare and not just point fingers of incompetency on those in power. We call upon our leaders to unite the people and guide us into a national vision that puts the country before politics and present a Zimbabwe that embraces politics but does not deify their leaders or fights against its own along political, religious and tribal lines. Our leaders hold the key of responsibility to unlock that value in the masses.

It cannot be denied that our environment has become so polarised due to the politics of the day. We can see it in our media coverage and even the church has not been spared. At times it has gotten so intense to the point that trying to dialogue any positive thought with someone embittered by circumstances becomes a futile attempt. Even constructive criticism to any establishment now comes with its own risks that lead to labeling of being either a sympathiser with a certain political party or a puppet of the other. “To defend one is to attack another” we now hasten to point out. Beneath all the hurt and aggression we still have a dream of a Zimbabwe whose flag flies high not just because of the wind but because of its many children waving it proudly in a victory march over divisions and bickering.

The true seat of power rests within the people and it is in the people where political leaders should be objective and sincere enough to understand that criticism of certain habits and utterances does not mean castigation of a certain political party but the bad deeds. It is quite possible to see the wrong or good in something whilst being blind to the political brand behind the action. Politicians come and go but the country and the people remain, so it is more fulfilling to uplift the people than obsess over politics.

We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here but simply trying to propose a new way of doing politics. We have made some tentative strides as a nation in our healing from political wounds and long may it live. When we feel like resting on our laurels, before achieving our national goals may we also be urged on by the voices of many visionaries along with Dr King exhorting us from that inspiring speech reminding us that “Now is the time” to work and take action for that which we want to see.

There is a generation of Zimbabweans that is willing to see beyond the ballot box and corridors of power but instead focus on creating a shift in mindset for our youth and cultivate innovative solutions for our energy, health and technological problems.

If we can tolerate each other in business and religion I am convinced we can work on coming up with initiatives that are more people oriented and less power concentrated. We might be in a bad place but we carry the capacity to remedy that through encouraging engagement of all Zimbabweans despite political choice.

It is important that these leaders who play such a prominent role in society show the way in a manner that allows the majority of our people a chance to fully embrace nonpartisan ethics. It has become commonplace for people to deliberately overlook good counsel or noble deeds because they have been communicated by the “wrong” political voice. The sad part is that half the time we have had efforts of well meaning Zimbabweans frustrated because they have been perceived to be political fronts and have conveniently allowed some sections to politicise even the most innocent initiatives.

It is refreshing to notice that at some moments such as during Cyclone Idai, our political leaders can work towards one goal despite their subliminal shots on the sides. It gave us a glimpse of what could be if we see more of such solution driven politics and civic engagements across the board. There are many unsung heroes who are making a change within communities, who are not necessarily party aligned but working for a Greater Zimbabwe narrative and even the inclusion in Cabinet of Ministers such as Hon Mthuli Ncube and Hon Kirsty Coventry who are apparently not aligned to any political party has to be recognised as a step forward. These are some of the hopes we sometimes carry for our country.

I sincerely look forward to a day where we see the brilliant ideas and promises our leaders give in election mode turn to actual action. Our dreams and ideals can come to nothing if we do not shed the blinkers of politics and embrace the endless possibilities that come through a sustained collective effort. We have it in us, to dare and try a new way of politics which is people and solution based in working towards the one goal of putting the aspirations of our country first.