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Guest columnist: Oh ye little gods of politics!

Opinion & Analysis
ALL political lives, unless they are cut off mid-stream at happy juncture, always end in failure because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

ALL political lives, unless they are cut off mid-stream at happy juncture, always end in failure because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

By Vince Musewe

These are the words of Enoch Powell, the late British politician. I cannot agree with him more for if we look at Zimbabwe, we see how the reputation of old men who have held onto power continues to diminish the longer they hold on.

None of us should therefore seek a long political life, but a brief history of making a difference and being a part of creating a new Zimbabwe that is based on the attainment of the common good.

Unnecessarily prolonged political lives always end up in failure and self-pity as we shall see with President Robert Mugabe, that no amount of political power, reverence or material wealth can ever fulfil our deepest desires.

God has put us on this earth not for our own aggrandisement or to cause the suffering of others, but to be of benefit and service to others so that they too can live up to their full potential. If only we would acknowledge this, then we would breed good leaders for the future of our country.

The politics of contestation and intrigue add value to no man’s life. Although it may seem attractive and even great, in the end politics never really brings out the best in us, but at most times actually brings out the worst in us.

I am truly disappointed that Mugabe has fallen into this trap – the trap of craving political power and holding on even at the likelihood that at the end of it all, his legacy shall only be remembered for its failures and the suffering and pain that it has brought. It is sad.

It is indeed time for change in leadership in Zimbabwe and there should be no argument against that. In fact, I suspect it has already happened. Our country cannot change to what we want it to be as long as the current leadership stays in power.

I therefore fully support the proposed idea of a grand coalition of democratic change so that we may once and for all usher in a new leadership.

However, the sole objective of such a coalition must be the creation and establishment democratic processes and institutions beyond our lifetime.

This coalition must not seek the promotion of one man’s ideas or power lest we breed a dictator once more. It must not rush to elections until we have built the institutions and capacity to conduct credible free and fair elections that will truly reflect our will.

Beyond the Mugabe era we have a unique opportunity to change course and create inclusive political and economic institutions that can help us become a developmental State. We must all work towards that.

We need to shun party politics and the idea that our political parties are the only platforms which we can use for social change. My respect for politics continues to diminish each day as I realise it is really power and position and nothing else.

Instead we must all now work to shape our own compelling vision of the Zimbabwe we want. A vision that is inclusive and significantly different from the Zimbabwe we know.

Zimbabwe belongs to all of us regardless of race or struggle history and that is where we need to start. If that is the case, it therefore means that it is our responsibility as citizens is to create the social conditions we desire.

Our biggest mistake has been to leave the responsibility of transforming Zimbabwe’s economy to Zanu PF. We have abrogated our responsibilities and left our fate in the hands of political men and women who have no idea or capacity to create the Zimbabwe we want.

As I watch the political intrigue from all fronts, the lack of vision, downright greed and the pursuit of personal ambition above all, I have realised that if we continue hoping and complaining from the sidelines, we will achieve nothing.

If we continue to be disengaged, those in power will merely do what they know best — lie, cheat and dominate us for a long time to come.

It is with this in mind that I am promoting the concept of Zimbabwe First. We must create a new paradigm of social and economic development where we put country first. This must be a non-political effort that seeks to change our value systems as a society and our priorities too.

We must now start an economic struggle. That struggle is all ours, but we must rid ourselves of the thieves and the corrupt amongst us. This does not only apply to the public sector, but even in the private sector where the pursuit of money has ruined our society. We cannot build a sustainable society based on inequality and exploitation.

We must now create the age of social entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe where our pursuit is not merely profit, but profits with development and empowerment of our citizens. Politics is not the appropriate tool for our development because there is just too much unnecessary contestation and too much hunger for position and power without appreciating the responsibility that comes with it.

Our politicians and our institutions are not equipped for developmental economics and we can change governments all we want, but ultimately if this generation is disengaged or disinterested, we will keep getting disappointed.

If we all decide to put Zimbabwe first and do whatever we can to now take the responsibility for creating a better society and more equitable economy, we shall be surprised at what we can achieve.

The problems that have been created for us by Zanu PF over the last 35 years can never be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

Dirty politics, racism, divisions, greed and selfishness will never create the Zimbabwe we want.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com