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Why independent candidates are wasting our time – Mutsa Murenje

By Mutsa Murenje

He was a businessman. I met him when I was with my friend. My friend and I were first year students at the University of Zimbabwe where we were both reading for our honours degrees in social work and psychology respectively. I studied social work and my friend studied psychology.

Dr Nkosana Moyo was Minister for Industry and International Trade in Zimbabwe under President Mugabe
Dr Nkosana Moyo was Minister for Industry and International Trade in Zimbabwe under President Mugabe

Although social work was my primary area of specialisation, I also did introductory courses in psychology and social psychology. My friend was handy in this regard. He provided me with the materials I needed to excel in these courses. I did as per expectation.

The two of us had known each other since 1997 when we first met at a secondary school run by SOS Children’s Villages in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province. The bonds of our friendship strengthened over the years and we are still in constant touch with one another. We share ideas and painful stories about what our country has become, a former shadow of itself.

This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when the only thing we knew was competing in our class. We always wanted to know who would top the class and our competition was more pronounced when it came to being au fait with the English language. We took turns. He’d be on top and sometimes it’d be me. We liked it that way. It worked for us and we are both proud of our achievements.

The competition worked. It brought the best in both of us. We were determined to succeed and we have worked really hard to be where we are today. It’d be incomplete if we don’t mention that we are where we are today because of the supreme sacrifices made by our respective families.

I knew he stayed with his uncle following his father’s death and my brother was like a father to me too since I had been robbed of mom and dad at a tender age. My brother became more of a fatherly figure to me than a brother. This is the respect that I bestowed on him and I still do.

He’s an academic success in his own right having received some of his postgraduate education in Europe, the first one in the family to achieve such a feat. I looked up to him as my role model. With that success in the house, I didn’t have much of a choice. I didn’t want to bring shame on him and the family at large, I had to behave and shine in my books.

He reads my writings and tells me I am more of a “Professor” than a “Dr” because I love writing. When I received a German Academic Exchange Service scholarship to read for a Master of Science in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies at the University of Ibadan’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Nigeria, I visited my brother in his then Harare office.

He looked beyond the qualification I had in mind and told me that there was nothing to wait for. He believed that, because of my interest in writing, I’d not have difficulties working on a doctoral disquisition. As per his ‘prophecy’, I am working on just that, having spent the past eight months in Africa.

The idea is quite tempting. It’s so easy to believe that one has mastered all the political knowledge there is to be able to make a meaningful political contribution to their country. However, to think that one can do so singly as opposed to collectively in a communalist society such as ours is like having all the ophidian characteristics of political betrayal that we ought to avoid given the sort of task before us.

We already have a smorgasbord of political candidates and we definitely don’t need any more to be added. Instead of adding value to the quality of political discourse in our country, such elements spend most of their time defending themselves against accusations by those who know our political terrain better.

You will have to forgive me. I have a tendency to divagate like I have done now. But I haven’t forgotten about the businessman introduced earlier in this treatise. He ran a successful printing business and most of us had our first email addresses opened in his internet café.

Thus, when my friend and I visited his business, we were fortunate to meet him. He enquired about what we were doing and we informed him about our university studies. He asked if UZ students were good communicators. We answered that they indeed were.

He then gave examples of degree programmes that he thought weren’t really useful. He reasoned that some graduates would be good communicators but they really had nothing to communicate. Could it be that he had in his mind the disjoint between educational institutions and the job industry?

I really don’t know. And he isn’t there to answer that now. I later learnt that he perished in a car accident many years ago. But I have remembered him now given the newest developments in Zimbabwe’s political history in the past week or so.

Though the new political entrants are good communicators, they, however, have nothing to communicate. Their presence in our polity lacks a connection with real life and real people. They are esoteric and cabbalistic and their language isn’t that of the common people, those who have borne and no doubt continue to bear the brunt of this struggle against dictatorship. It is these people who have the prerogative to make or destroy political leaders.

No! I am not going to stand as an independent candidate in Zimbabwe. Not now, not ever! When I seek political office, as I intend to do in the not-too-distant-future, I will do so within a political structure from which I can make my political presence felt.

I have been writing social and political commentary for the past 11 years and I haven’t come to a stage where I can confidently say that I have made myself visible to all the political corners of our country. An established political structure will aid me in this regard. That’s a functional prerequisite which continues to be ignored by people like Fadzayi Mahere and Nkosana Moyo.

For the avoidance of doubt, we don’t seek to curtail their participation in the politics of our country. We all know that all human beings have the right to take part in the government of their country either directly or through freely chosen representatives.

These two are exercising their democratic right to seek political office. That’s how democracy works. However, if they are really opposed to the Mugabe regime and are seeking real change in Zimbabwe, then they should know better that our greatest want is fighting from a common political corner. No man is an island and many hands make light work.

In conclusion, a time is coming when I will put all the theories and concepts behind me and focus on getting my hands dirty, building the kind of Zimbabwe that will help improve our lives.

For now, I am concluding a research exercise that saw me spending eight months in Africa. I will soon be out of here and return to the Oceania to see the successful completion of my doctoral disquisition. May God help Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!