We lack politicians with conviction
By Conrad Nyamutata
Ever since President Robert Mugabe delivered a wrong speech, it is hard to believe that any government official reads any text with conviction.
If someone ploughs through a wrong speech to the end without noticing it, it is difficult to believe that the person has any conviction about its contents.
Zimbabwe has politicians who revel in officialese.
People who turn up at occasions to read speeches only as part of official duty.
Our journalists have been reduced to stenographers.
Check the newspapers today: you are bound to encounter a flurry of reports on what president or minister so and so “said.”
What we hardly get — and no fault of the reporters — is what he or she “did.” One of the main reasons we cannot progress is because we do not have action-oriented leadership.
We have these readers of speeches not leaders.
Conviction, especially to moral values, is important in politics. Our rulers are adept at identifying problems. I have lost count of the number of times president Mugabe has said some of his ministers are corrupt.
And most recently he said government officials would be obliged to reveal their assets.
Perhaps, he should take the lead here.
Again, we have heard similar proposals before. Reporters wait to report that “he did.”
This is a party that lost its convictions to the socialist Leadership Code, leading to amassment of wealth. A clear disjuncture exists between official rhetoric and action.
At the weekend, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was waxing lyrical about “righteous” leadership. From the prepared script, he inundated us with biblical verse after verse.
At the weekend, some of you would have seen some of these politicians at your local churches, appearing all demure and holy. Mugabe, who listened to the Pope’s speech in America, also claims to be a devout Catholic.
Yet our politics has been woefully bereft of any conviction and moral values. It is difficult to take the speeches by the likes of Mnangangwa — a man who revels in his training to kill — seriously because the politicians have demonstrably shown a disconnection with what they preach.
Exactly which god do these people pray to? The violence that has been experienced over the years and self-enrichment do not comport with any faith.
Our politics is driven by the desire to protect one’s material gains than challenge immoral politics. People are people guided by consensus — no matter how morally wrong it is. When it comes to political power, righteousness or religious values do not seem to enter the calculus.
Conviction politicians are guided by their fundamental values or ideas, rather than attempting to represent an existing consensus.
And from experience, Zanu PF consensus has been harmful to the well-being of the country.
And those who rebel against immoral politics stand to be celebrated.
The reason that the former liberators, estranged from Zanu PF and now known as People First, are facing a credibility crisis is because they did not demonstrate conviction to the values they now espouse.
They went along with damaging consensus. Farm invasions, political violence, corruption — you name it.
They cannot blame the public for its scepticism; they would have earned the respect and trust of the public if they had, of their own accord, left Zanu PF than wait for expulsion.
To their credit, they have apologised. Contrition is very rare in politics. It is the reason politicians would rather “regret moments of madness” than offer full apologies to victims.
Today, the same politicians preach about righteous leadership. Politicians should have convictions, moral values and a commitment to serve people.
However, experience has shown us that rhetoric is detached from practice.
And it is not unusual for the journalist to be rebuffed by some governmental official saying he or she is busy. If a country has officials who are so frequently busy, our country would be better.