The election season
By Whitlaw Mugwiji
The bible tells us that to everything there is a season. Surely, you do not have to listen to Zanu PF jingles on radio to know that it is election season in Zimbabwe. Just the rate at which new players are emerging on the political scene is evidence enough. This time around it is not just all about new parties but also the phenomenon of the young independent candidate.
If I must confess aloud, I have nothing but admiration for many of these new political players. I admire them not just because of their great personalities but because I believe they have talents valuable in the new Zimbabwe. More importantly, they are awakening a desire in young people and in women in particular to enter into politics.
However that said I hope I will be able to articulate my honest views with some level of detachment. As they say, a doctor must detach himself/herself from his/her patients in order to treat them well. I too, must detach myself from both the political players I adore and loath to do justice to this article. The objective is to try and refocus people on the bigger question for 2018.
How do we birth a new Zimbabwe
I am sure there is no doubt that our country is pregnant with a desire for change. As Alexander Herzen says ‘the storm is approaching’. New and old political players both can see that our people are desperate for change. All right thinking Zimbabweans are walking with a heavy weight on their heads, trying to answer the question of the day. How do we birth a new Zimbabwe?
Coalition talks, the emergence of new political players and the political debates in homes, in public spaces and on various social media platforms are all signs that we are all burdened by this very question. I have to be brutally honest, 2018 is too important an election to massage people’s oversized egos. Now is not the time for ‘me’ but ‘us’. The mere entrance of new political players alone is inadequate a measure to birth a new Zimbabwe.
Sound policies will not defeat Zanu PF
Nkosana Moyo another political newcomer believes that his neo-liberal ideas are the Midas-touch required to defeat Zanu PF. But I am sorry to inform him that his views are not that different to every other Tom and Suzan’s views in the opposition. I have read a great many opposition policy documents, they all share Nkosana Moyo’s neo-liberal outlook.
So, let us discard this nonsense here and now. Of all the new entrants onto the political scene no one has presented any superior policies. But even if they had, logic tells me that it is pointless to have brilliant ideas that you cannot implement. Therefore, anyone who wants to be taken serious must explain how they plan to defeat Zanu PF. This is the most important question that every politician or wannabe politician must answer without failure. Zvimwe zvese kutungana kwembudzi (everything else is pointless).
This does not to mean that I agree with all the opposition’s neo-liberal policy prescriptions. I know I am hard to please; I am socialist and a Pan African. But above all, I know we can only engage in a meaningful policy debate after the downfall of Zanu PF. Therefore, 2018 must be about defeating Zanu PF and establishing proper democracy.
A twig can easily be broken
Hence, I believe this pre-election period is the time to exorcise some of these self-destructive demons. Demons that delude people into believing that they can single handedly, birth a new Zimbabwe. Elections usually cure some of these delusions but Madhuku and his NCA are proving to be incurable. Even after losing dismally in all the by elections since 2013, they remain adamant that they will go it alone in the next elections.
Lest I be misunderstood, I am not asking anyone, to abdicate their constitutional rights. It is just that I believe as the Chinese say ‘a twig can easily be broken but twigs bound together make a very tough weapon’.
Foxes cannot take power from lions
Zimbabweans seem to forget that we have not yet transitioned from the rule of the might to the rule of the right. Our politics is yet to mature into a proper contest of ideas.
But how can it mature in an environment characterized by Zanu PF’s use of naked power and their manipulation of elections? Zimbabwe is a political jungle ruled by Zanu PF lions by force. Thus, I think it is folly for anyone to expect the opposition foxes to take power from these hungry lions. The challenge at stake is not about who has the most brilliant ideas of rebuilding Zimbabwe but who can lead the opposition in organizing the masses. We need an energized and organized masses to counter Zanu PF’s shenanigans.
As Jung says, ‘men need their myths and their heroes’. Whether people like it or not, Morgan Tsvangirai remains the people’s hero in the fight for democracy. Joice Mujuru has the potential to become a liberation heroine who freed her people twice. The decision is hers to make, but with or without her the freedom train is marching.
Might alone is inadequate
I content that might alone is inadequate to dislodge Mugabe. Hence, it is imperative that we build a broader coalition. The coalition needs Ncube and Biti’s brains, the cunningness of Mangoma, the charm of Makoni, the determination of Ngarivhume, the boldness of Dabengwa, the wisdom of Munyeza and the bravery and the youthful energy of Patson, Promise, Maureen and Pastor Mawarire. This is what the people want; let this not be scuttled by people with big egos.
There are many people with reservations when it comes to Tsvangirai. But here is the catch; as part of the coalition agreement, Tsvangirai must be prohibited from running again in 2023. Whether he wins or loses, is immaterial.
Let those with ears hear. As the Swahili saying goes, a boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing his/her own way.