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Welshman Ncube’s Easter Message

By Welshman Ncube

As we celebrate Easter this weekend, may we be reminded that the death and resurrection of Christ speaks of sacrifice and service for a better life for all. That sacrifice and service also speaks to the role of leadership as that of being a sword of justice, rather than terror and evil.

Welshman Ncube
Welshman Ncube

This Easter should resurrect our awareness that it is the responsibility of each and every citizen to work toward economic, social and political recovery in Zimbabwe.

It is a time for those in leadership to deeply reflect and reawaken to the fact that leaders must never bring misery to citizens, for we are all created in God’s image. Political leadership must appreciate that political office like any other office is ordained by God to do justice for all, just as religious leadership must be saying, imitate our good works as we imitate Christ.

Now more than ever, the core of Easter matters to every Zimbabwean. I am inspired and humbled by the story of hope at the heart of Easter, the hope that Zimbabwe will be made whole again, that injustices will be overcome; and hope that good and right will triumph in the end. It is my sincere belief that these values are not confined to Christianity, but apply to all.

The best way to honour Christ’s resurrection this year is for every Zimbabwean, more so those in leadership to faithfully fulfil duties in a manner that ensures fairness, equality and justice.

On behalf of the MDC and indeed on my own behalf, I would like to wish you all a happy Easter holiday. I urge those travelling to be with their loved ones during the holidays to take extra care on the roads and observe the law.

Meanwhile, it is an indisputable fact of political life that all ruling parties, actually, most, invariably begin the treacherous journey into government as opposition entities.

For post-colonial Africa, the roots of popular governance were fueled by dramatic military struggles against the imperialists, not just outside the formal circles of government, but as with Zimbabwe’s case, in bushy confines of ‘military exile’ in Zambia and Mozambique.

However, it is imperative that no matter how long the struggle is outside formal government, a political opposition movement moulded as a people’s project must sooner than later assume office to accomplish its intended objectives.

I want to share my thoughts on what it really means to be an effective opposition party. First, we will need to begin from a point of consensus that the MDC need not be in government for it to be labelled ‘successfully effective’.

It is generally not easy for the opposition in Africa to take over from the ruling party, but more so in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe and his ZANU.PF’s brand of democracy is extremely vindictive to the opposition. Yet in a democratic constitution as we have, a ruling party’s credibility heavily depends on how it ‘accommodates’ opposition.

Regrettably, ZANU.PF is not in that class of democratic excellence. With the complicity of its compliant State-controlled media, it has abused authority, exploited weak legislation to place restrictions on opposition, at the same time perpetrating systematic intimidation and persecution of even civil society. Their skewed and primitive perception of opposition is retrogressive.

Yet unlike the pre-independence ZIPRA and ZANLA entities, the MDC has neither interest nor privilege to back its political program with AK47s. We have to keep reminding Robert Mugabe how important it is for a civilised government to accept the role of the opposition, whether or not MDC is ‘small’ or external to government.

If it is true that the core mandate of civil society is to play a watchdog role over public governance, it is even truer that opposition political parties have to call the incumbent government to account. Left on its devices, the executive can pursue self-centred party agendas that do not respond to the needs of citizens.

MDC may not be ‘part of government’, but is has locus standii to question the performance and financial practices of theZANU.PF government because we are legitimate opposition with a popular mandate.

We may not be in government, but we know what the issues are, so we will continue to contribute towards the efficient running of the country by stressing alternative policies that yield the best results. Our policy department will continue to research on and make presentations of bread and butter issues to various Parliamentary committees.

I do concede that how and who people vote for is their democratic right, but it is our responsibility to make the masses aware of the relationship between their vote and quality of life after elections.

In the case of Zimbabwe, the masses may be suffering from state monopolies, a dysfunctional health delivery system, unemployment, poverty, poor quality education and more often than not, ignorance of voting procedures and participation in local governance.

As MDC it remains our duty to set a blazing trail of voter and civic education, despite legal obstacles placed on our path by an ungrateful incumbent government.

We must hold on as a symbol of integrity and effective leadership rather than the epitome of usual pre-electoral dubious promises only meant to deceive gullible voters.

We must continue to motivate people to participate in politics and equip them with the necessary skills to participate meaningfully in democracy and democratic governance. It is our responsibility to ensure that the masses understand just what their vote means.

Professor Welshman Ncube is the president of the breakaway MDC of 2005

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