It is just about 20 months before the next general elections in 2018. Two key factors dominate our political space today.
Develop me: Tapiwa Gomo
The first factor is that anger has been building among citizens as our situation continues to deteriorate unabated. Citizens are determined to see change as they have lost faith in the current system. On the other hand Zanu PF, despite its diminishing support base, is not showing any willingness to cooperate or reform. There is a tangible battle between the people and the system.
Both factors are at their climax with both actors unyieldingly holding their ground. If the Constitution is anything to go by, the only time these tensions are to be settled is in forthcoming elections in 2018. There is no denying that both actors are hopeful, but what does that mean for the future of the country?
Before addressing the question on the future, it is vital to note that our country has lost 16 years of development due to a protracted political turmoil and mismanagement of national resources. Our natural resources have benefitted a few, national institutions are at their weakest and infrastructure is now dilapidated and a revamp will be needed for our road and railway networks.
As people tightened their belts and learnt to survive the hardships brought by the current system, we lost the culture of pride and honesty, which made us among the hard working people on the continent. This is where the future will start from if change is to happen in 2018. We will start from where we lost it in 1999 when the crisis started.
But will change really happen in 2018? Not likely. The opposition parties are fragmented and have not been able to tap and build on the citizen movement initiatives. There have been backbenchers when they were expected to take the lead. They have not been able to take advantage of situations when Zanu PF was at its weakest. They opted to parochially adhere to the rules set by the same system which takes pleasure in breaking them, under the opposition’s nose. We can better save ourselves from unnecessary heart attack by approaching the 2018 elections with a delicately guarded optimism.
On the other hand Zanu PF has not changed its game plan, but has instead sharpened it. They are well aware of what the people think about them. And they have reinforced the arrogance that has kept them in power thus far. Unlike the opposition, they have harnessed all the tools available to them into their corner. All the hungry and underpaid civil servants have been kept loyal. A police officer, who they underpay is right in their corner holding a dog, teargas and baton stick ready to unleash. A civil servant, whose salaries have been irregular is also in their corner ready to service the system. The State media sing their hymns, while the security sector speaks their language. If push comes to shove, it is securocrats who hold the levers of power.
That aside. The system has created a new cabal of young ministers who have been at the forefront of the looting spree. They are aware of the dangers of a Zanu PF loss. The aging war veterans have been replaced by a mixture of the Third Chimurenga veterans and youth who recently received residential stands.
It has been clear over the past months that this new legion of membership is ready to defend the system and the crumbs they received from it. May be a Nikuv project is on the cards to legitimise the numbers. Yes, they are organised and ready to win or remain in power at any cost. And it is possible that they still win it clean.
A Zanu PF win is a nightmare most people would not want to imagine. But that nightmare is most likely going to be our reality post-2018 elections. It is not an extension of the current state of affairs, but a deterioration — a huge plunge. The period between 2018 and next elections will be the most painful of our time. It simply means the succession drama will be full-time Zanu PF business leaving the country neglected. It will be the last days and the end of time. It means a final push and more looting and externalisation of national resources. It also means continued misuse and abuse of power to contain any dissent. The gap between the people and system will then grow wider. The little attention people are getting today is simply to manage emotions ahead of 2018 elections. That too will come to an end.
As this happens, the economy will freeze as political jockeying and lawless take centre stage. Access to services such as hospitals, schools, water and sanitation will drastically deteriorate due to neglect. Civil servants will stop providing their services due to lack payment and government programmes will grind to a halt.
Unemployment will sour and abject poverty, disease and hunger will torment the nation. Freebies to those who manage the propaganda machinery will dry up. Fear will grip the nation as intimidation will be the order of the day. There will no protests anymore as fear will overcome angst. Perhaps, that’s the price we will pay for being patient and leaving everything to nature to take its course.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa