By Sibanengi Ncube
The announcement of Dr Nkosana Moyo’s presidential bid, close to two weeks ago, has raised a lot of dust on the political landscape. Both analysts and other political players have reacted differently to this announcement. But, typical of the Zimbabwean body politic, at the moment the responses reveal deep-seated polarity that has become the bane of this beautiful country.
Now that the dust has somehow settled, I wish to add my voice to this highly contentious issue. Even as I write, I am more than aware of the danger of exposing myself to bullies who have perfected the art of calling for freedom of expression during the day while seeking to muzzle voices that sing songs that are deemed abominable to their political fiefdoms during the night.
According to this warped thinking, freedom of expression only matters when it involves the hero worshipping of political players of choice. That realization notwithstanding, I seek here to explain why, in my view, Dr Moyo is the most ideal presidential candidate for Zimbabwe.
Perhaps to begin with, let me deal with major criticisms that I have managed to glean from the various voices against Dr Moyo’s candidature. Topping the list is the charge that he has not suffered in the trenches to be ‘rewarded’ with the Presidency of the country.
And this view cuts across the political divide as sympathizers of both the ruling party and the opposition harped endlessly on this point. My problem with this line of argument is that it tends to reinforce ‘politics of entitlement’ which views political office as a reward of some sort for having suffered in the trenches. By extension, this view means that the highest office of the land should be reserved for a person who would have suffered the most in the so – called trenches.
In terms of this approach the overarching quality for leadership are the wounds and bruises one would have incurred in the so-called trenches. Nothing, in my view, can be further from the truth. Leadership of the country cannot be taken as a mere compensation for having suffered either in the liberation struggle or any struggle for that matter. It certainly requires much more than wounds and bruises for anyone to be able to stir the affairs of the state in the best interests of the majority.
Related to the issue of the suffering is the view that portrays Dr Moyo as a coward. The basis of this cowardice is purportedly the fact that he resigned from cabinet in 2001. Lost in this criticism is an attempt to understand why Dr Moyo resigned.
According to his own version, which has not been refuted by anyone, and therefore remains as the only correct representation of what happened, Dr Moyo resigned on principle. His approach on the direction the country was supposed to take fundamentally differed with that of his principals, and for that reason he felt that he could not continue.
To vindicate his misgivings, the direction that the country took then has left us in our present situation. I do not see how, even by the most strenuous stretch of one’s imagination, this becomes cowardice. To the contrary, it takes great courage and bravery to stick to principle and tell President Mugabe that this far, no farther.
Secondly, it takes principle and unprecedented bravery to voluntarily abandon the trappings of power and the feeding trough associated with a cabinet appointment. We have seen in the past how those who get sacked go screaming and kicking.
Recently, all sorts of justifications were used to try and extend the life of the GNU by some who could not imagine life out of cabinet. Some of the people who wanted to prolong the life of GNU, under the pretext of reforms, now have the audacity to join the chorus and call Dr Moyo spineless. It defies logic to say when Dr Moyo voluntarily let go, this amounts to cowardice.
It has also been insinuated in some quarters that Dr Moyo is Zanu PF. Surprisingly, the same people making this allegation advance a mutually destructive argument that his candidature will split opposition votes. If indeed Dr Moyo were Zanu PF, I would expect him to split Zanu PF votes, something which should be celebrated by those in the opposition.
A lot has been said about his comments about Mnangagwa’s capacity as a replacement of President Mugabe. Because of the culture of intolerance that has become part of Zimbabwe’s party politics’, this is viewed as inconceivable. Dr Moyo, is bringing a new brand of politics which is able to comment positively on a political opponent, but at the same time differing on how the nations should be run.
Instead of being criticized, in my view, Dr Moyo needs to be hailed for liberating political discourse from the firm clutches of party politics dominated by blind loyalty to the anointed and unflinching hatred of the political opponent.
The country is torn apart by polarization at both inter-party and intra-party levels. The level of factionalism across the political party divide has reached alarming levels. Although muted, ethnic cleavages are also simmering. Because of all this people have taken entrenched positions which engender feelings of hostility and fuels flames of retribution which run contrary to national cohesion, itself a prerequisite for development.
Dr Moyo enters the presidential race without much of this baggage which gives him the latitude to pursue pro-people policies without hindrance. More so, a son of a Ndebele mother and a Shona father, and married to a Manyika lady, Dr Moyo is not only a product of ethnic unity, but also a manifestation of ethnic harmony which gives him a national outlook in these days of parochial ethnic cleavages.
Geographically, Dr Moyo was born and bred in Mberengwa in the Midlands province, the heart of the country, which places him in good stead to balance calls for devolution and decentralization and the need to entrench national cohesion.
Makuva area where he was born was a theatre of the liberation struggle and I am sure he is more than aware of the sacrifices that ordinary villagers and combatants made to liberate this country from colonial rule, hence the need to jealously guard the gains of that struggle. By virtue of having grown up in Mberengwa, a rural marginal district of the country, the centrality of land as a key means of survival for ordinary people cannot escape Dr Moyo’s attention.
Whilst others have chosen to look at Dr Moyo’s academic achievements and professional track record as embodying elitism, those achievements can actually be harnessed for the good of the country.
Given the current discourse on science and technology as a basis for development, his PhD in Physics places him at the centre of a science and technology driven development paradigm. The MBA and vast hands-on experience in management and finance cannot come at a better time for the country.
The economy is battered. To oversee its revival requires the correct aptitude and commitment at the highest level, and I argue that of all the candidates we have so far Dr Moyo is outstanding in that regard. Given our situation as a country; the need to heal the nation; to forge national cohesion and to resuscitate an economy that is in the doldrums, a candidate of the caliber and stature of Dr Nkosana Moyo is ideal.
About the Author: Sibanengi Ncube is a co-founder of the Parliamentary Trust of Zimbabwe and is currently a PhD Fellow with the University of the Free State’s International Studies. These are his personal views.