Echoes:Urban voters not a soft touch


President Robert Mugabe, despite his landslide victory in the harmonised elections held last month, is still smarting from the MDC-T’s comprehensive wins in the country’s biggest cities: Harare and Bulawayo. So, what to him, could have gone wrong?

Report by Conway Tutani

On the other hand, the MDC-T has to begin at the bottom again despite getting to the top in 2008. That is what they should do — or sink into oblivion. They now know the perils of standing still in politics. As for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, it has been wiped off the political map.

Back to Zanu PF, there is no doubt they are still feeling the sting of defeat in the two biggest cities. Miffed at this, Mugabe last week said: “People from Harare and Bulawayo, to vote for the MDC-T, what do you admire in that party? Now, go and get from the MDC-T what you were promised during the elections.”

As for those saying he was merely joking, they ought to be reminded that many a serious thing is said in jest. So, suppose Mugabe was serious, what can we make of it because soon after his landslide victory in the 1985 elections, he said “goborayi” (root out the remaining stumps of opposition) and in subsequent polls people were denied food and other State aid — not to mention being thrown out of their homes with some even killed — for being suspected as not having voted for Zanu PF? This should be taken as an ominous, sinister threat until proved wrong.

It’s a contradiction in terms to force or pressurise people to vote your way because voting is essentially an expression of free choice.

Even Zanu PF itself conducted hard-fought primary elections for party members to choose their own preferences among several candidates. So why must the general populace vote entirely the same way in national elections which include non-party members? Isn’t such line of thought most illogical and irrational?

Does it also follow then that Harare and Bulawayo residents will be exempted from paying tax to the State since there won’t be any social contract between government and those residents if Mugabe excludes them from State services since they are the biggest contributors to income tax revenue? How can people who pay the most income tax get the least or no services?

So, what really economic planning can be done if you sideline Harare? Without Harare and Bulawayo, the fragile economic recovery is bound to shudder and falter.

Moreover, there is something not okay with the current rush for material wealth in which a few are making billions, but evading tax big time. It’s doubtful that it’s going to be productive. The only semblance of an economy is found in Harare and, to a much less extent, Bulawayo, which, by Mugabe’s own admission, now resembles a “scrapyard”.

When Mugabe took the oath of office, he swore by the Bible that he would uphold the Constitution. Any wilful neglect is clearly in breach of the oath of office to serve all people without discrimination. In constitutional democracies, leaders can be prosecuted or impeached for that. Following the financial meltdown of 2008, the Prime Minister of Iceland was charged with economic negligence. In Hungary, the attorney-general has brought charges against the last three previous prime ministers because of the ruinous amount of debt into which they plunged the nation.

That said, Mugabe ought to know that some people will never be Zanu PF no matter what just like some people will never be MDC-T come rain or shine. That’s the way it is.

Furthermore, townsfolk are a different breed altogether. Urbanites are worldwise as opposed to rural people who tend to be left behind by progress. To say that, is by no means an insult, but the truth. Urbanites have what is called in sociology intercultural or cross-cultural competence; that is, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures across racial, tribal, geographical, historical, moral, political or religious differences, as opposed to isolated rural communities. This is what sets urbanites apart. This gives them broadness and discernment of outlook. That is why they don’t buy the line of whites being evil by nature. They know that evil and exploitation are not limited to race or tribe. Such simplicity of view is not found in them.

Makokoba in Bulawayo is classic case. While Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube is highly esteemed in the Bulawayo community, first, as a former liberation fighter, and, second, for financially assisting the highly popular Highlanders Football Club, this has not automatically translated into him winning the Makokoba seat for Zanu PF. People in Bulawayo, the most cross-cultural city in Zimbabwe, genuinely like Dube, but have no time for his politics.

Again, urbanites see democracy at the workplace daily through the workers’ committee, works council, code of conduct, and disciplinary hearings, as stipulated in the Labour Act, in which all sides are heard and all processes followed and exhausted. So, how can they readily and conscientiously accept undemocratic, haphazard practices at State level? Issues of fairness, justness and procedure naturally rank high with them unlike rural people who do not work under the confines of an employment contract with an 8 to 5 job; in fact, they work as and when under permanent flexi-time, as it were.

So, the worst you can do to urbanites is destabilise their tight, complex, orderly world. These people have come of age and do not need hand-holding by anyone, including being “assisted” to vote. They know what they want without being told by anyone. Should they be forced to make do with corrupt, clueless, myopic, even murderous leaders? If anything, what is being done to them will bring them even closer together.

Urban voters — like all over the world — persevere and insist on high standards. Eventually quality leadership will emerge.


  1. Ncube’s MDC has been wiped off the political map of only myopic people like you Conway. Your bootlicking of the loser Tsvangirai ceases to amaze. Who at this time is having more sleepless nights between Bob and Tsvangson. UTsvangson is having a running stomach engapheliyo trying to get to grips with the hiding he got. He is a third time flop with no hope in hell of ever getting anywhere politically ever again. Ncube on the other hand was only testing the waters and although he got a thorough drubbing he is in much better position to get up again and find his way up than your pathetic Tsvangson. This guy by going around appointing unpopular mayors despotically in the urban areas he won is heading for a disaster. Worse will come when the Chombos of this world work against him in the cities by putting hurdles everywhere. Tsvangson has already met his Waterloo and should just retire to ekhaya. He failed dismally to serve his purpose and will be humiliated heavily if he sticks around in the cities

  2. Eventually, quality leadership, as a concept, will emerge in the minds and hearts of the many MDCs. About actual leaders in physical and spiritual form emerging, well..

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