This week, I thought I would share my thoughts on the political landscape we find ourselves in and some tips to avoid mistakes of the past.
By Paul Kaseke
These are of course just my thoughts and are not binding on anyone.
I believe one thing that we still lack in our political discourse is the ability to engage in a constructive discussion without resorting to “Donald Trump politics” of insults and threats.
We still take disagreeing views as acts of aggression and proceed to attack each other instead of dealing with the argument.
It has come to the point where people feel afraid to disagree with manifestos of certain candidates because a brigade of overzealous intolerant zealots will come and shred one’s reputation and dignity.
That ought not to be the case.
Previously, we used to call out Zanu PF youth for this kind of behaviour, but it has gone far beyond the ruling party and extends to opposition supporters as well.
Regardless of who we support or what views we take, we ought to be able to agree to disagree and be able to hold a civil conversation on the matter as matured adults.
There really is no need to engage in the kind of politics popularised by former First Lady Grace Mugabe, together with her allies.
That kind of politics was characterised by indecent, vitriolic and condescending comments that never addressed the issue, but instead attacked the person.
This must end.
The Constitution entitles us to express our views and we should, as citizens, be able to engage with each other respectfully.
If you disagree with what I write in this or other pieces, that is fine, but respectfully tell me where and why.
In that way, I might learn a thing or two and concede to your view points.
Don’t call me an EDiot if I happen to agree with something the President has said or call me a Neriot for agreeing with something Nelson Chamisa says.
That is shallow analysis and shows a lack of political maturity, in fact, it shows a lack of maturity full stop.
Let’s have robust engagements cognisant of the fact that we are all humans entitled to the same rights of dignity but beyond that, we are unified by our shared nationality.
That should manifest itself in the way we disagree with each other.
Am I advocating for a passive society that does not disagree with each other?
I am instead saying, we can disagree, but that should not degenerate to insults or hatred.
Let’s robustly debate policies rather than personalities.
The age of politicians should not be a factor unless it results in a potential dereliction of duties or some incapacity of some sort.
It must be said that age in itself is not a policy nor a manifesto, so people should instead be asking what this candidate is bringing to the table and what their policies are instead of judging by the age of the candidate.
Globally, some great leaders came into office in their 40s and others in their 70s so let’s judge on merit and ability to deliver working solutions.
We should move past the politics of attacking perceived political opponents and political leaders should lead the way by discouraging supporters from making derogatory comments.
The responsibilities of leaders in this regard should go as far as changing chants and slogans.
The “down with so and so” slogans must stop.
We can propel our ideas and policies without us denouncing candidates.
The best ideas should win over people.
Hate speech disguised as political rhetoric must also come to an end, because as our history shows, it has led to political violence across the board.
Lastly, our politics must evolve to a level where we as citizens, refuse to be the pawns of politicians when it comes to mudslinging, social media trolling and violence.
In the 2008 elections, we saw young people being used as instruments of violence against other parties, while their leaders wined and dined each other.
We must never forget that at the end of the day politics is like a game of football.
While one may play for another team on the field of play, once the game is over players from the two teams put that behind them and life goes on.
We must, therefore, not forget that after an election, we remain Zimbabweans and that will never change.
We must be game changers for peaceful elections because, after all is said and done, it is not the leaders that get killed or injured — it is the Chipos, Njabulos and Maideis who get caught up in the violence.
I really do believe we can have a peaceful, mature election, but that change starts with you and I.
You can start in your own way by engaging in discussions where you are tolerant to the views of the other people.
You can start by refusing to insult people because you have different political views.
You can start by rejecting slogans that are hate driven.
You can even start by engaging with this piece — constructively of course.
Paul Kaseke is a legal adviser, commentator, analyst and former law lecturer with the Wits Law School & Pearson Institute of Higher Education (formerly Midrand Graduate Institute). He serves as director and current group chair of AfriConsult Firm. He writes in his personal capacity. You can give him feedback via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @paulkasekesnr