Election Season: Birthing a new Zimbabwe

The challenge is not about who has the most brilliant ideas of rebuilding Zimbabwe, but who can lead the opposition in organising the masses

The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season. Surely, you do not have to listen to Zanu PF jingles on radio to know that it is election season in Zimbabwe. Just the rate at which new players are emerging on the political scene is evidence enough. This time around it is not just all about new parties but also the phenomenon of the young independent candidate.

OPINION: Whitlaw Mugwiji

The challenge is not about who has the most brilliant ideas of rebuilding Zimbabwe, but who can lead the opposition in organising the masses
The challenge is not about who has the most brilliant ideas of rebuilding Zimbabwe, but who can lead the opposition in organising the masses

If I must confess aloud, I have nothing but admiration for many of these new political players. I admire them not just because of their great personalities, but because I believe they have talents valuable in the new Zimbabwe. More importantly, they are awakening a desire in young people and in women, in particular, to enter into politics.

However, that said, I hope I will be able to articulate my honest views with some level of detachment. As they say, a doctor must detach himself/herself from his/her patients in order to treat them well. I too, must detach myself from both the political players I adore and loath to do justice to this article. The objective is to try and refocus people on the bigger question for 2018.

How do we birth a new Zimbabwe

I am sure there is no doubt that our country is pregnant with a desire for change. As Alexander Herzen says “the storm is approaching”. New and old political players both can see that our people are desperate for change. All right-thinking Zimbabweans are walking with a heavy weight on their heads, trying to answer the question of the day: How do we birth a new Zimbabwe?

Coalition talks, the emergence of new political players and the political debates in homes, in public spaces and on various social media platforms are all signs that we are all burdened by this very question. I have to be brutally honest, 2018 is too important an election to massage people’s oversized egos. Now is not the time for “me” but “us”. The mere entrance of new political players alone is inadequate a measure to birth a new Zimbabwe.

Sound policies will not defeat Zanu PF

Nkosana Moyo another political newcomer believes that his neo-liberal ideas are the Midas touch required to defeat Zanu PF. But I am sorry to inform him that his views are not that different to every other Tom and Suzan’s views in the opposition. I have read a great many opposition policy documents, they all share Moyo’s neo-liberal outlook.

So, let us discard this nonsense here and now. Of all the new entrants onto the political scene no one has presented any superior policies. But even if they had, logic tells me that it is pointless to have brilliant ideas that you cannot implement. Therefore, anyone who wants to be taken seriously must explain how they plan to defeat Zanu PF. This is the most important question that every politician or wannabe politician must answer without failure. Everything else is pointless.

This does not mean that I agree with all the opposition’s neo-liberal policy prescriptions. I know I am hard to please; I am socialist and a Pan African. But above all, I know we can only engage in a meaningful policy debate after the downfall of Zanu PF. Therefore, 2018 must be about defeating Zanu PF and establishing proper democracy.

A twig can easily be broken

Hence, I believe this pre-election period is the time to exorcise some of these self-destructive demons. Demons that delude people into believing that they can single-handedly birth a new Zimbabwe. Elections usually cure some of these delusions, but Lovemore Madhuku and his NCA are proving to be incurable. Even after losing dismally in all the by elections since 2013, they remain adamant that they will go it alone in the next elections.

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not asking anyone, to abdicate their constitutional rights. It is just that I believe as the Chinese say “a twig can easily be broken, but twigs bound together make a very tough weapon”.

Foxes cannot take power from lions

Zimbabweans seem to forget that we have not yet transitioned from the rule of the might to the rule of the right. Our politics is yet to mature into a proper contest of ideas.

But how can it mature in an environment characterised by Zanu PF’s use of naked power and their manipulation of elections? Zimbabwe is a political jungle ruled by Zanu PF lions by force. Thus, I think it is folly for anyone to expect the opposition foxes to take power from these hungry lions. The challenge at stake is not about who has the most brilliant ideas of rebuilding Zimbabwe, but who can lead the opposition in organising the masses. We need an energised and organised masses to counter Zanu PF’s shenanigans.

As Jung says, “men need their myths and their heroes”. Whether people like it or not, Morgan Tsvangirai remains the people’s hero in the fight for democracy. Joice Mujuru has the potential to become a liberation heroine who freed her people twice. The decision is hers to make, but with or without her the freedom train is marching.

Might alone is inadequate

I contend that might alone is inadequate to dislodge Mugabe. Hence, it is imperative that we build a broader coalition. The coalition needs Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti’s brains, the cunningness of Elton Mangoma, the charm of Simba Makoni, the determination of Jacob Ngarivhume, the boldness of Dumiso Dabengwa, the wisdom of Shingi Munyeza and the bravery and the youthful energy of Patson Dzamara, Promise Mkwananzi, Maureen Kademaunga and Evan Mawarire. This is what the people want; let this not be scuttled by people with big egos.

There are many people with reservations when it comes to Tsvangirai. But here is the catch; as part of the coalition agreement, Tsvangirai must be prohibited from running again in 2023. Whether he wins or loses, is immaterial.

Let those with ears hear. As the Swahili saying goes: A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing his/her own way.

Whitlaw Mugwiji writes in his personal capacity


  1. @ Mugwiji

    If the people of Zimbabwe are expecting democratic changes to happen just because “The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season” then they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of disappointments. It takes human effort to build a sand cattle and yet the laws of physics say for all the sand grains to be in the exact same position on their own is not an impossibility the probability of it happening is so low it is not even worth considering.

    The Greeks gave the world democracy as a system of government, that was 2 500 years ago and yet we are still blundering from one tyrannical autocracy to the next. If we want democracy we will have to earn it by thinking through what qualities we need in good leaders and then going out to seek such leaders. Things like that do not happen on their own! We will wait another 2 500 years and still never have a competent government for even one day!

    In life, chaos is the more certain state than order because everything does and it demands no effort to achieve it or maintain it, the least among of energy expended the better.

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