Feeding on people’s misery is not campaign material
By Albert Masaka
Has Sadc, by endorsing the recent national elections and appointing Zimbabwe as vice chair to the regional grouping, washed its hands off the country’s protracted political impasse or is it a resigned move for the people to decide their fate?
Indications are that the two main protagonists — President Robert Mugabe and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — need to change tact to neutralise in-house their long-standing political feud to resuscitate the nation’s ailing economy and better the lives of Zimbabweans.
The country has been weeping for more than a decade but once again anxiety has gripped the troubled southern African State following the re-election of Mugabe this month after a recuperative Sadc-inspired inclusive government era.
Mugabe was inaugurated in the capital on Thursday for a record seventh term in office at an event attended by several foreign leaders but blighted by the absence of opposition parties as a protest to the conduct of the recent elections.
The Zanu PF leader’s rivals have concluded the voting process was controversial, a view though later not sustained in the courts and is at variance with regional grouping, Sadc, and the African Union’s observations, but is gaining popularity on the streets — if the laws of the grapevine had the slightest of chance.
How a leader who vehemently believes in sharing a nation’s wealth among his people, could have “rigged” an election is paradoxical and tempts a narration of political events of the past decade to solve the mystery of a nation that regularly holds elections but whose leader is viewed mainly by the West as a tyrant.
Mugabe has been steadfast in his quest for the resource-rich Zimbabwe’s wealth to be transferred to its rightful owners the indigenous blacks, pursuing national policies like land reform and enacting indigenisation laws.
However, party cronies in his Zanu PF, many who have a penchant for abusing power derived from such people-inspired policies for self-aggrandisement and short-changing the masses in the process, are the main reason for his unpopularity especially among the urbanites.
Critics have pointed to Mugabe’s reluctance to decisively deal with corruption and his use of repressive laws like Aippa and Posa as his Achilles heel.
Has the wily old man learnt from his past after losing the 2008 elections followed by a violent presidential run-off?
Mugabe, after the violent 2008 election run-off went from “degrees of violence” mantra to sing the peace song during the recent election campaign and this seems to have worked to his favour as the majority of foreign observers fell in love with the elections.
Gone are the days of a one-party State and the over reliance on agriculture and Mugabe should be wary of throwing away the baby with bath water.
The nation’s industry is in dire straits and there is need to revive the manufacturing industry as opined in this paper by prominent media lecturer Wellington Gadzikwa.
From recent press statements, Tsvangirai seems to allude to the fact that Zanu PF will once again fail to manage the economy well through populist policies which will lead to an economic crisis.
The main opposition party, the MDC, has been riding on Mugabe’s failures winning the first round of the 2008 elections against a backdrop of an unprecedented economic and social collapse attributed to mismanagement by Zanu PF.
It is time the opposition realises that preying or feeding on people’s misery is not campaign material neither does it guarantee a place at State House.
There is need to be more innovative and enterprising portraying a practical desire to put people first to win the hearts of the African community and trust from the liberation war-inclined constituency in Zimbabwe.
Boycotting national events, crying to Sadc and the West and prophesying disaster is not going to lead the opposition to victory.
It is now time to plan ahead. Yes, they are genuine concerns about a large number of disenfranchised voters but many political scientists have concluded that even mandatory voting only guarantees high voter turnout but not better government.
In Africa people tend to vote for what they believe to be national interests.
The worry among contesting political parties should be about whether voters will invest the time to learn which policies better serve the people. Daily News