Let them fight it out

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For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

VINCE MUSEWE

I am sure we are all tired of Zanu PF succession fights which continue to grab the headlines in our local media. Despite all this, we all know that there is nothing new that Zanu PF can offer us except for the continued plunder of our national resources at the expense of development. As far as I am concerned, this interminable drama is a diversionary tactic to divert our attention from the economic meltdown and from getting organised as opposition parties. Let them fight it out but let us not be consumed by their fights.

Interestingly enough, the real fights are next door in South Africa, where there is a real possibility of Jacob Zuma getting impeached. I just wish we had the same scruples here in Zimbabwe. The sad reality is that no matter who wins the fight within Zanu PF, we are still worse off. It’s a rat race where the best rat wins.

You see, we must not fall into the 2013 trap where Zanu PF gets organised while we are focusing on the wrong things. Things are not going to get any better until we have political change that addresses human rights, ushers in an inclusive democracy and creates a modern economy that meets the aspirations of all Zimbabweans regardless of race or political loyalties. That can only happen through comprehensive political reforms and economic revival. Zanu PF, in any shape or form, are the least placed to bring this about.

Without any substantial political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe on all fronts, our country will remain locked in a spider’s web of economic and social decline because Zanu PF has no idea on how to extricate us from it.

We certainly don’t want Zanu PF in power beyond 2018. Pity it can’t be sooner. They are an embarrassing failure. In order to achieve this they are several issues we must address as a matter of urgency.

First, we need a coalition of all opposition forces. I am rather disturbed that some opposition parties think that we can wait, but two years is not enough. We need the coalition to be in place now so that we can have enough time to counteract Zanu PF and strategise together for 2018, especially in the rural areas. Our people unfortunately still need to be re-educated on democracy, elections and their rights. They still need to be liberated from oppression by chiefs including from lack of information and knowledge.

On the issue of a coalition, we must agree on the nature of that coalition. I think that expecting parties to merge is not possible, given the vested interests and ambitions of politicians. We also can’t leave it for after elections simply because our electoral system does not allow post-election coalitions.

Our main objectives are first to have a new president in State House, second to dominate at local government level and deliver. Third is to dominate Parliament as opposition forces, but ensure that parliament begins to play a meaningful role as custodians of the national development agenda and ceases to be a mere talk shop.

The best route on local government and parliamentary elections is to have election pacts, where we all agree as opposition forces to allocate constituencies to the best candidates from each of the opposition political parties. This means that we have to start the process now and select potential councillors and potential members of parliament amongst ourselves.

With regard to the presidential elections, we all need to agree on one candidate. That candidate must agree to and be bound by our collective values and also undertake to implement agreed non-negotiables once in power. We must never create another dictatorship. We must also banish the idea that anyone is entitled to be President except they are suitable both in character and competence.

This approach, in my view, removes a lot of uncertainty and divisive contestation amongst opposition parties in the future which could split the vote to the benefit of Zanu PF, something which we cannot afford to do. In addition it ensures that we use scarce financial resources efficiently and effectively.

We must also all be clear exactly what we want to happen between now and the next elections. Zanu PF has already gone into campaign mode and they continue to dominate the state media at our disadvantage. Access to media is critical now and not later. Access to the rural community is also critical.

Second, we need to ensure that our youth between 18 and 35 register to vote. The apathy in this sector of our population must be dealt with through motivation and education. It is in our interests that all youths realise that it is their responsibility to usher in a new democratic era in Zimbabwe and they must be empowered through information and positive action. This also includes all those in the diaspora.
Third, we need to work on international pressure with regard to electoral reforms and the recalibration of our whole election process and institutions so that we can achieve a free and fair election in 2018. We cannot expect the existing structures to deliver different results, even if we use biometric systems.

It is the architecture of the election processes that needs to change and not the tools alone. There is a real danger here that we can create false hope and overestimate the positive impact of biometric systems. I am glad the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is now on this issue. Let us all be very clear that the use of biometric systems does not guarantee free and fair elections!

Above all, we must guard against any unfounded optimism that 2018 will inevitably be different without us taking the necessary action.

It was Martin Luther King who once said that change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. Let us avoid the dangerous assumption that change will inevitably roll in on wheels in 2018 without us getting organised as a collective and taking the necessary action now.

We should all take heed of the above issues now and seize the responsibility to make history in 2018 as we dismiss the dictator and his coterie from power.
Except we do that, we shall remain under the yoke of Zanu PF.

Vince Musewe is an economist, author and Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for the People’s Democratic Party. You may get hold of him on vtmusewe@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are personal.