Once again, Zimbabwe is going for the polls soon. It is an interesting period of time in our country, where all political parties are trying to select candidates that would tussle it out with the other parties in the first ever elections where former President Robert Mugabe’s name would not feature.
By Bothwell Riside
I would like to commend the way Zanu PF has so far conducted its selection of contestants and approval for primaries, and come the weekend, I hope the best candidates will win.
For the MDC-T, we also hope they will select candidates well without causing further damage to a party that Morgan Tsvangirai fought for until his last breath.
The tussle for names would further harm the party that lost its iconic pro-democracy leader.
While elections are around the corner, this year’s Zanu PF elections have attracted a lot of candidates, a sign that there was openness in the process.
Therefore, The MDC-T and other political parties must also try to fairly select the most popular candidates at grassroots level.
For Zanu PF, the way the primary elections are being conducted so far may be a strong indication that Mugabe’s reign was full of nepotism, intimidations and idolisation not only in the country at large but also within Zanu PF itself.
Others may argue that Zanu PF wants the best in the post-Operation Restore Legacy in order not to cause a repeat of the 2008 Bhora Musango, considering the seemingly controversial way President Emmerson Mnangagwa ascended to power, both in the party and the country.
Whether controversial or not, the removal, resignation or forced resignation, whatever you call it of the despotic Mugabe was a welcome development in our country’s politics besides that a handful of his henchmen would cry for his return.
Even the international community turned a blind eye on the seemingly coup of what was to be called operation Restore Legacy.
Zimbabwe’s voting patterns
The greatest concern in Zimbabwe’s voting patterns is the highly partisan manner our country’s electorate vote.
The calibre of some of our parliamentarians, who were voted into power simply because they are members of a certain party, is a disgrace to our nation.
Zimbabweans have not mastered the art of evaluating a candidate not the party before putting an “X” on the ballot paper. We have never given space for individuals in our country.
Some of our legislatures would need to interact with foreign dignitaries in platforms like the Pan African Parliament as well as Sadc.
These people represent Zimbabwe as they go out there. A Member of Parliament should be at least knowledgeable to be able to debate the bills.
At the end, most of the work in Parliament will be left to those members with brains and the rest being white elephants or mere spectators or just placeholders.
It seems the voter education process, yes, is being done, but our electorate does not know the role of the MP. Our members of Parliament have suddenly been reduced to donors.
While yes, an MP must be seen spearheading development in their constituencies, there is a misconception in the electorate that an MP must build dams, schools and so on, a role played by the local authorities or central government.
Our rural members of Parliament are forever inundated with petty problems and most MPs end up using unorthodox means to get money and do something for the people. Lest we forget the Kumbirai Kangai Grain Marketing Board saga or the Jonathan Moyo bicycle project.
They have no choice, but continue to donate food, money for projects in order to win votes. But the million-dollar question is: Is this the role of a Member of Parliament?
What this means is that the rich people would only be able to represent their people and poor pro-development knowledgeable people will forever be left out of our local and national governance systems.
I would not blatantly blame the colonial government’s law that gave franchises to a few people.
Our leaders must know that the moment you lose support of the knowledgeable people and start setting eyes on dotards or people who have ignorance more pronounced you are no longer wanted.
The same applies to our political systems, we cannot be depending on votes from people who do not know the head or tail of governance systems.
Those people must take it as a privilege to vote, otherwise I think an examination or qualification of some sort would be required for one to be able to vote.
True, some people do not even know anything about what a senator, councillor or member of the House of National Assembly is and yet their votes count too. Attaining 18 years does not necessarily guarantee ability to think reasonably.
MPs who are like Mashuramurove (white storks)
In my rural area in Murewa, we have coined a term called Mashuramurove. Mashuramurove are migratory white storks that are seen in southern Africa towards the rainy season. When you see them, you would know that the rainy season is about to come.
Whenever an MP is called one of the mashuramuroves, it means he or she is only seen whenever elections are about to come.
The MPs become so conspicuous towards elections in order to hoodwink the poor, ignorant and vulnerable electorate into voting for them.
I believe a member of Parliament must be always mingling with the electorate, getting their views while also giving them information about deliberations in the Parliament.
Voting on pertinent issues should be done not by consulting the political party or on partisan lines but by consulting the electorate.
There was a lot of scepticism with this new dispensation at first. Of course, one or two things are not going on well, but I would like to give thumbs up to the ED administration that has democratised the political environment.
ED’s administration is totally different from Mugabe’s. Probably ED took the statement that when you are copying a book of a fool, copy it well and do exactly the opposite.
Our opposition political parties are freely campaigning without any incident of violence. Hence Robert Mugabe was the cause of all the political violence we witnessed in our country ever since, he is the cause of the disappearance of all the people who disappeared for political reasons.
It has shown that when a leader speaks against something, followers will follow.
Thumbs up for our President’s call for peace, harmony tolerance. True it’s the Zimbabwe we want.
A lesson I have learnt is that even in future if ever Zimbabwe is going to witness orgy violence scenes, the country’s leader is to blame.
Bothwell Riside is a social commentator. he can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org