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Beware of predatory politics

Opinion & Analysis
Predatory states do not arise from thin air, but are actively created and nurtured by predatory political party organisations and predatory coalitions that seek to gain advantage.

Predatory states do not arise from thin air, but are actively created and nurtured by predatory political party organisations and predatory coalitions that seek to gain advantage.

Vince Musewe

After reading the concept paper Predatory Leaderships, Predatory Rule and Predatory States published way back in 2011 by Alex Bavister Gould, from the Department of Politics, University of York, I now understand and appreciate more the challenges we shall face in our attempts to transform Zimbabwe into a modern developmental State.

The paper sought to clarify the term “predatory” and articulate its fundamental characteristics. Predatory states have existed for a very long time.

However, it appears that there are more prevalent in post-colonial Africa and have therefore, in my view, become the curse of Africa that must be purged by us the new generation African leaders who must take a fundamentally different approach to politics and development, in creating new African nation states that are based on social justice and equity to stimulate sustainable and equitable development.

The term predator is aptly described or defined in the paper as a metaphor of “predator” and “prey” where, those who control the State apparatus seem to plunder without any regard for the welfare of the citizens just as a predator would have no regard for its prey.

The ideals of our liberation struggle in Zimbabwe have not been met because we have failed to achieve social justice and equity; the grand vision of freedom for the majority and the right of access to equal opportunity and the pursuit of personal ambition without any form of discrimination continue to elude us. That must therefore remain at the top of our political agenda.

According to the author of the concept paper, the key features of predatory rule are: extreme autocratic rule; personality politics and the use of violence, fear and repression; erosion of formal public institutions; pervasive corruption; a disregard for traditional, customary or informal institutions; rewards for key collaborators, leaders and associates who use power for personal ends and establish a predatory coalition.

What is key for me is that, a predatory state does not begin and end with a predatory leader as we have in Zimbabwe, but is propped up by a “predatory coalition” typically made up of the army, the police, the intelligence services, the judiciary, parasites including prostitute writers and praise singers, who all stand to benefit and are duly rewarded by the dictator with status and material wealth. State resources are always abused and exploited, not for the benefit of citizens, but for the benefit of this predatory coalition.

The paper primarily deals with the characteristics of a predatory state, but here I want to extend my discussion with the hypothesis that; predatory states do not arise from thin air, but are actively created and nurtured by predatory political party organisations and predatory coalitions that seek to gain advantage and benefits.

In my opinion, political party organisations have tended to create and promote a predatory culture within, that is then extended to the State machinery once in power. Thus, they are able to reinforce their rapacious predatory culture and mentality as the norm. State resources then come in handy to entrench predatory behaviours and are used to reward cadres, thus making the problem larger than life; the thin line between State and party conveniently disappears; Zimbabwe is currently in that state, including most of Africa.

Zimbabwe is in political turmoil and we have seen political parties of all sorts emerge. We have seen political factions taking centre stage as the season of elective congresses approaches.

What is also rather intriguing to note, is that some of these new political formations are not about creating political structures that are fundamentally different from Zanu PF, (Zanu PF) being a typical example of a post-colonial predatory coalition that has failed to deliver on social developmental objectives).

That is to say, we are seeing new personalities emerge in the political space, but we are not hearing their plans to create profoundly new political structures that are inclusive in nature.

Clearly this approach is not going to change anything and is for me, a serious flaw that I encourage our political parties to seriously reflect on.

In addition, we as citizens should never support political formations that have a predatory culture as this is contrary to the principles of social equity and justice and therefore antagonistic to the objectives of the liberation struggle in which so many of our brothers and sisters sacrificed for.

I would encourage my patient readers to read this rather intelligent and striking essay by Alex Bavister Gould.

I shall diligently apply my mind on that and share my ideas with you in the coming weeks.