By Tendai Chabvuta
Zimbabwe is one country that is like a child sitting on a see saw – on its way up, the feeling is exhilarating and probably nauseous, on its way down, it’s gut wrenching. The kid badly wants to get off the see saw but does not know how.
The crowds milling by proffer solutions but none of them want to face the truth that simply carrying the baby off the seat will end its misery.
Zimbabwe under ZANU PF rule is once again on the precipice: exchange rates tumbling, fuel prices have hit the roof, state sponsored violence continues with impunity and the country seems to be on autopilot while the President gallivants the world.
Yet the most plausible solution the so called “Church” in the name of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and its acolytes has seen fit is what it calls “Sabbath to Elections” for seven years.
The idea presented to Zimbabweans by one Rv. Kenneth Mtata, the leader of the ZCC in a press conference a few days ago is at worst diabolic to the ethos of constitutional politics and at worst sinister an anathema to the idea of free competition that is espoused in electoral politics.
At this rate, one is tempted to look for that Zimbabwean Prophet who usually talks to God on the phone and ask him to call “mwana wamai Maria” to tell him that “his flock is now abusing the word of God in support of the unthinkable in Zimbabwe”.
A capitulation akin to excusing ZANU PF for its misgoverning
There is no doubt that Zimbabweans are suffering from a collapse of social and governance systems that has seen poverty of unseen proportions in a country not at war. That the frustration is unbearable and frustrating to the “Church” is understandable.
However, to want to throw in the towel and argue that since talks, negotiations and all else has seemingly failed then the alternative is to suspend the constitution and have Zimbabwe run by “selected” leaders is an affront to democracy and a capitulation to ZANU PF’s machinations and trying to excuse the party for its bad governance.
Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU PF are in government and they must deliver good governance. That they hold the whole country to ransom through violence, abductions and constant threats of going to war is just child’s play. For the church to come up with solutions based on such kinds of blackmailing and threats from ZANU P is not helpful and will not work.
Constitutional republic vs Theocratic Government: The church looks for a seat at the governance table
The last time I checked Zimbabwe was a constitutional republic and not a theocracy. The press statement by the “Church” seemingly tries to hide behind a finger and argues that it would recommend a referendum to ask Zimbabweans if they would want to suspend elections or not.
The argument is neither here not there. What they are proposing centers around the proposed outcome – a Zimbabwean government run by appointed officials for seven years without any elections. Of course if this were to go through, the “Church” would be heavily involved and thus govern though the backdoor. That cannot be allowed.
Zimbabweans are a religious lot and this is well appreciated. The values espoused in the Bible are great and would do well if followed by our leaders.
However, I am of the view that instead of trying to upstage the state, constitution and whole fabric of the nation called Zimbabwe through fallacious biblical quotations, the same lessons espoused by the “Church” in the “Elections Sabbath” statement could as well be taught and preached to their three million members so that they know where and who to vote for in the next election. The constitutional republic should be left as is.
Who exactly is the “Church” that wants the elections to go on a Sabbath in Zimbabwe?
In the press statement, there is an argument posited that the leadership of the “Church” met and agreed on the proposal to side step the election mode of electing political leadership. The same “Church” boasts of having in excess of 3 million followers/members.
It would be interesting to understand how all these people or at least a representative sample of them was consulted and how the conclusions were reached.
The “Church” wants to preach democracy – if that is so, then charity has to begin at home. Why don’t they create transparency and show Zimbabweans how they arrived at the conclusion that the “Church” wants to do away with elections for seven years in Zimbabwe?
Chiding the MDC and other opposition political parties is what this is about
The press statement in one line argues that elections would not be able to change the fortunes of Zimbabwe even if any party would win the elections. I find that statement very patronizing and a smack especially on Nelson Chamisa’s face.
So the Church has now concluded that the MDC or any other opposition party cannot change the fortunes of Zimbabwe even if they were elected into power? What I see here is a “Church” leadership that is sending a very clear message to the MDC that in their current state they cannot govern and do not have the capacity to do so. The opposition parties can choose to ignore this, but in my view silence would be an affirmation that what the “Church” alleges about their potential incapacity and incompetence is true.
Competition is the essence of democracy
The “Church” in Zimbabwe is failing to realize that Zimbabwe’s electoral politics is not necessarily where the problem is with the country’s politics. Zimbabwe’s problems lie elsewhere and that is with ZANU PF, Emmerson Mnangagwa and a state captured by the securocrats.
The problems that bedevil are not caused by an MDC or opposition forces that call for good governance or junior doctors who down tools because they are paid a pittance which is not enough to transport them to work for even half a month. Democracy thrives on competitive ideas. One party comes up with ideas on how to improve it’s peoples health, education, agriculture, finances etc.
If the other one does not agree then it proffers it’s own ideas. The best party should then win. The challenge that we have in Zimbabwe is that when ZANU PF loses on the battleground of ideas they cry foul and argue that the nation is being taken over by white people yet they are the grandmasters of auctioning the country to the Chinese, Belarusians, Libyans and god knows who else.
If the “Church” is honest about dealing with the problems that afflict Zimbabwe today, they would call out ZANU PF on a number of issues and these would include the need to end such vices as:
- grand theft of state resources through tenders, etc. mismanagement of taxpayers money – they decorate and call it corruption;
- the need to end state sponsored violence through abductions, disappearances of human rights defenders, opposition political party members etc.;
- borrowing and plundering in the name of the state through schemes such Command Agriculture
- Appointment of ruling party cronies into supposedly “independent” constitutional bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, Elections Commission and the Reconciliation and Healing Commissions.
- An urgent need to disband the joke that is the POLAD
- A democratic way of managing elections that respects the outcome of an election
- A return of the state to the people by the military
In other words, the “Church” basically needs to write another letter, hold a press conference and tell ZANU PF, the military junta running the state in Zimbabwe and Emmerson Mnangagwa to “behave” and Zimbabwe shall be well on its way to a fruitful, democratic, nonviolent, successful state.
There is nothing wrong with the election model in Zimbabwe. The problem is with those who manage it. They are the ones who need to change.
Hatirasi mbereko nekufirwa!