Presidential Elections 2018: Unless big egos get out of the way we’re likely to be screwed again

By Bishop Dave Chikosi

They say big egos and politics go hand in hand. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as one knows how to keep their big ego in check.

Bishop Dave Chikosi
Bishop Dave Chikosi

There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Or a big one for that matter. All egos are God-given. This is why I have no gripe with a politician adding a little swagger to their game. It can make the difference between winning and losing in an election cycle.

But having a big ego and being driven by one are two very different thing. Any time humans are driven it generally doesn’t end well. The very thing that drives them also intoxicates and leaves them in such a drunken stupor that they begin to think they are infallible and incapable of bad judgement.

Undergarments, beer dregs and the perils of umbimbindoga-ism

The person who thinks they are infallible is called a ‘zanondega” in Shona. This is your obnoxious know-it-all type of person. They think they are the sum total of wisdom and knowledge and so don’t need any input from anybody else.

African elders have a word for Mr Know-it-all: “Zanondega akasiya jira mumasese.”

In other words smarty-pants one day got exposed when people deliberately chose not to inform him of the whereabouts of his undergarments, which, in his drunken stupor, he had left  in beer dregs!

And then there is Mbimbindoga.

Several weeks ago on social media I coined the term, “umbimbindoga-ism” to describe the unfortunate tendency by politicians and pastors to shun collaboration in favor of an independent go-it-alone approach to a task, even when it is fairly evident that divided we fail and united we bring change.

So what of Mbimbindoga? This is a pejorative name or term used to describe the lone ranger type within communities. Needless to say, the mbimbindogas of this world are ego-driven, except in cases where they have been given or promised a pecuniary benefit for shunning collaborative behavior, by a hidden political master pulling hidden political strings from a hidden political enclave.

African elders also have some wisdom for this character: “Mbimbindoga akaonekwa nembonje pahuma.” In other words, this chap was conspicuous, not by his achievements or good deeds, but by the scar on his forehead – the evidence of an injury sustained from a blow that came about as a result of a condition called bone headedness.

The electorate wasn’t politically born yesterday

Look, my brief here is not to second guess the reasons why a Presidential candidate would want to opt out of a united platform in 2018. Nor is it to impugn the character of those who have or are contemplating doing so. They have every democratic right to do as they please.

But let it also be known that, after all is said and done, the electorate will demand an explanation as to why a candidate shunned all collaborative efforts. If the status quo emerges victorious in 2018, such a candidate had better be prepared with a coherent answer.

And no bs please (excuse the French) because we, the people, were not born yesterday. We know when we’re being played. We know when long-winded political speeches and argument are nothing but hubris used to hoodwink political babes.

And on that same day of reckoning we will also want to know who got paid, Judas-style, to split the vote. We would also want to know why they thought thirty-three pieces of silver was the appropriate price to pay for entrenching the status quo.

Now we see darkly, but then face to face.

A miasma that continues to stink to high heaven

Here’s the bottom line that every Presidential candidate knows very well: the people of Zimbabwe want nothing short of a regime change via the ballot box. Many of them don’t really care at this point who occupies the highest seat of power in this former breadbasket African country.

If that is your concern, dear Presidential candidate, then you’ve missed the boat and need to recalibrate. 2018 is not about who gets to be the head honcho in possibly a new government. That is not what is uppermost in people’s minds right now.

We obviously care enough to desire that a capable and honest leader who can quickly deliver be elected to head a new government. But we also just want to see the current crop of tired leaders grab their government pensions and get the hell out. Their exit is long overdue.

At this stage of the game in Zimbabwe, it’s almost a truity that any change is better than no change. The current socio-politico-economic miasma has stunk to high heaven long enough. It simply cannot be changed at the same level of consciousness that created it. There must be a changing of the guard.

Insanity would be to allow the same people to do the same thing they’ve been doing for the past 37 years and expect different results. We have suffered long enough. And we are not insane.

Asphyxiated: fat cats in Harare did this to us

Does anybody need to be reminded how ordinary folk in Zimbabwe continue to heave and asphyxiate under the smothering economic burden authored and engineered by the fat cats in Harare, and for which they (fat cats) refuse to take ownership?

Them fat cats simply don’t give a fig. They couldn’t care less what happens to we, the people, notwithstanding the long and winding political speeches concocted to convince us to the contrary.

The fact is we inherited a jewel of a country in 1980 and the bad boys promptly screwed it up. Zimbabwe should have been the Switzerland or Singapore of Africa by now. But instead our people are globally regarded as the wretched of the earth and our country viewed as a banana republic. Minus the bananas.

Our government leaders have failed to make us, and Black people everywhere, proud. In the diaspora one is frankly embarrassed to be identified with the economic hellhole that we used to proudly call Zimbabwe.

What is it about our political leaders that makes them screw up so big and yet remain so nonchalant about this mega failure right in front of their nose? Kumbe madhimoni? Chii?

We have more degrees than a thermometer

Here we are, arguably the most literate people on the continent. Our people have more degrees per capita than a thermometer. We are renowned for our impeccable mastery of the Queen’s language both written and oral. And we once had an advanced regional civilization of which the Great Zimbabwe is but one remaining relic that still stands as evidence.

So what or where is the problem?

Don’t tell me we don’t have what it takes to make this country great again. Perish the thought! We do. Don’t tell me only one man out of a population of 16 million has the requisite aptitude to lead the government and that the rest of us are but “mambaras” who don’t have the foggiest? How offensive.

Excuse me, but we do have internationally recognized professionals and experts born and bred on this soil. They don’t have the brains to form and lead a government? We have internationally acclaimed sons of the soil who are businessmen, writers, professors, theologians, lawyers, and doctors etc who have been recognized as such everywhere but in their own country.

Instead of engaging this wealth of human capital within and without, our leaders choose to expend their creative energies and resources squabbling over profitless factional battles on various media platforms.

Like Emperor Nero they continue fiddling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while Rome burns.

And because their creative energies are so scattered, it’s little wonder that they cannot focus long enough to move the country forward. Which is partly why, after 37 years being in power, they have very little to show for it.

Where are the new and bristling skyscrapers in our big cities? Where are the glistening luxury malls filled with beautiful soft music to soothe weary shoppers? Where is Harare’s metro rail system?

Someone once remarked that if the present government had begun ruling earlier than 1980, Harare by now would probably resemble a poverty-stricken rural village of thatched mud huts with wild animals freely roaming to and fro.

We surely can do better than turning everything into a village. Our African pride demands that we do better. We must leave behind a legacy that makes the next generation proud to call themselves African, and more specifically Zimbabwean.

Presidential candidates must not miss the forest for the trees

On their part Presidential candidates must aim to be good public servants. A good public servant is one who is able to see the bigger picture, and not allow an overactive ego to cause them to miss the forest for the trees.

Regime change via ballot box is the forest. Details of who will occupy what office or position in a new coalition government, are the trees. Let’s focus on the coalition forest for now, instead of details of which individual tree will stand where.

If the candidates fail to do that then rest assured that we, the people, are screwed. Again