The political litmus test to a democracy has always been defined with how a nation or unit is able to change leadership in an orderly fashion successively. When Zimbabweans sacrificed their lives during the liberation struggle the paramount political objective was the supremacy of the vote – dramatised as one man one vote. It was the thinking of the time that no man is infallible and leaders need to be changed periodically as well as national and people’s interest come first. Never did our forefathers, brothers and sisters pioneer a struggle meant for the creation and self-enrichment of a demi-God on motherland. The idea was certainly not about creating a permanent seat for a permanent personality in our body politic – unlike Iran the liberation charter never sought to create a supreme leader. That president Robert Mugabe has become a central figure in our country’s political landscape for more than three decades now calls for serious introspection and national evaluation against the core values of liberation struggle. Egotism and unparalleled dogma have provided a fertile ground and bred an unparalleled thirst for power in an era of contemporary democracies. Need I say that am fully aware of the neoliberal machinations of the concept of democracy but if taken on its own outside a hostile international environment it is the paramount reason that mobilised our people to engage in the liberation struggle against white domination. That Mugabe believes no one else can do it better on the political scale is an indictment on our generation..... we bred the monster in him – by failing to demand and safeguarding an accountable political system which was the benchmark of our liberation struggle.
President Mugabe has become shrewd in dealing with opposition and each time after every election he seems to emerge with a new level of astuteness and certainly fine art of extending his grip on power skilfully (at times brutally) outwitting his opponents. After losing the first round of elections in March 2008, he instead went on a rampage of brutalising political opponents that intimidated his main opponent Morgan Tsvangirai to eventually conduct a one-man election in June 2008. After the sham election, Mugabe had to be part of an inclusive government which legitimised his presidency. The coalition government was his political resurrection from the dead; it saved him until its final collapse after the July 31 poll. And as expected 31 July was the end of an era for his erstwhile contenders – MDC-t. During the GNU the president remained an active player, more energised and witty that even his age couldn’t corroborate with his actions. It was all about the President’s powers more than anything else. In fact the MDC spent most of the time concentrating on social service delivery and the economy and forgot they were in a political marriage awaiting a permanent divorce. They fell to Mugabe’s witty tactics and neglected political reforms which will forever haunt them. By neglecting constitutional and electoral reforms the MDCs are guilty of resurrecting a political ghost which had been buried on 29 March 2008.
A series of political blunders spelt below indicate that the MDC is guilty of committing political suicide and aiding the resurrection of Mugabe. The year 2013’s first major highlight was when the coalition government of ZANU PF and the two MDCs frog-marched Zimbabweans to vote for a constitution that they had never set their eyes on under the guise that it contained their views. This was not only a national fraud but a setback to the democratic values of national foundations. We were tricked by President Mugabe, who in his maverick style used Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube to further his interests. The man outclassed them all systems out, and to suggest we were in a transition as the opposition parties used to say i9s nothing but wishful thinking. A political transition, Cdes, is a significant movement towards mass democracy – ours was an unequal society less likely to consolidate democracy and ended up oscillating between a brutal regime and a population that suffered substantial fiscal volatility!!!
The highlight of the July 31 elections is somewhat missed which in the history of Zimbabwe surpassed all by being one of the most peaceful political events with less incidences of physical political violence. The elections saw ZANU PF getting a two thirds majority and above all fielding an 89 year old candidate, who eventually won the elections. This was historic and record breaking, I wondered to myself how a country with such a young educated lot (90.6% literacy) voted for an octogenarian, and indeed there is something wrong somewhere. The campaign itself was spearheaded by Mugabe himself, using his much looking younger picture, his signature was all emblazoned on their party regalia, in total he addressed a total of 10 star rallies across the country. Every ZANU PF official who appeared on television addressing a rally would speak more about the president than his own, whether it was a party directive or what, this was Mugabe’s campaign. The election of 31 July was therefore pinned on idolising and safeguarding the political life and legacy of Mugabe and the development paradigm through the party’s indigenisation and empowerment proposals were nothing but a tired political slogan less appealing to the people. The question that immediately poses is what went wrong? The answer is bare for all to see Cde Mugabe branded himself and manipulated the electoral process.
Zimbabwe – A nation in limbo
Elections came and went and the task of nation building lies in a clueless regime that destroyed the very fabric of our economic being and political progress. The appointment of the cabinet proved to be a painstaking exercise for the Harare regime which took more time than expected. A number of factors account for this delay but perhaps more concisely it was because President Mugabe could not choose from a large pool, not of competent comrades, but a click of bootlickers. Such is the patronage system which has characterised his leadership from the party down to parastatals and councils. Like the Black Prince Wrathion Mugabe is known to richly reward those who earn his trust and support his endeavours. Of course not forgetting the balancing act on widespread factionalism in ZANU PF. The delays somehow affected the government business as the Executive and the judiciary remained the only functioning organs of the state. It left a leadership vacuum, and dealt a blow to the economy as business continued on a speculative path. Needless to say service delivery becomes a neglected stepchild.
Most are privy of the talk about recycling old wine in new bottles or rather portfolios. The role of cabinet in a presidential system has been to advise the president on policy direction as well as administer executive branch government agencies. The system owes its being to the English Privy Council from the 16th Century and has been a means by which the executive can effectively discharge development on the political, social and economic sphere. The appointment of a cabinet would require individuals with capacity and zeal to assist the president effectively govern a nation. These individuals should not sing praises all the time on the president but provide a balanced view on how to take the nation forward. A striking difference can be drawn with how mafias operate – the Don surrounds himself with hero worshipping beneficiaries of an illicit unit/system. These are henchman. In Zimbabwe, the appointment of key ministers namely Chombo, Chinamasa, Moyo, Kasukuwere ,Nhema, Mavhaire etc left a lot to be desired. I still hear wild cries because of the composition of the Ministers chosen by President Mugabe. He chose his close old friends who have been there before and have a record of failure, Ministers who cannot interpret their own policies; they can only read out at press conferences but not in the loop of what they are talking about. The current cabinet like their leader has characters who are way old and cannot respond to the needs of the younger generation who occupy more than 60% of the country’s population. These are more henchmen in a mafia system than cabinet minister and to expect delivery of an effective government work programme for the next five years is expecting impossible. The major highlight of this ‘cabinet’ has been a futile after-though budget. The nation has been betrayed, the nation mourns, the nation is in limbo, and the nation is in dire need of a political nemesis. That Mugabe can dream of consolidating his power in 2018 is at the age of 94 should send shivers in our nation. What is it that he is capable of doing that no other Zimbabwean is capable of achieving? If its Mugabe chete chete does it mean that Zimbabwe will cease to exist the day he dies? Zimbabwe needs a political leadership that will resurrect the ideals of the liberation struggle and realise their fruition. The future should see a reengagement with the Zimbabwe People’s Charter, resetting the motion for a genuine people driven democratic constitution intertwined with substantive electoral reforms, rethinking the course of our national economy and connecting with the people’s struggles for a functional economy. Debate should no longer be premised on personalities but discourse that takes Zimbabwe out of the limbo it has been plunged. Slogans about a pro-poor development course must now be realised with the de-Mugabeisation of our beloved nation. The democratic ideals we fought for should now take centre stage with a leadership change. Certainly motherland deserves better.
Blessing 'Vuvuzela' Vava is with the Committe of the People Charter (CPC), and a blogger who writes from Chipinge, he can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org