SO here we are again, stalled by inconclusive politics. Only time, dates and names of politicians have changed and the clock continues to tick. The scenario is the same. With every day that passes, our bodies are aging. Our politics continue to go in full cycles, but our dreams are stalled. It is either we are cursed or we are just stupid.
Develop me: Tapiwa Gomo
Why can’t we resolve our political stalemate amicably and allow the country to move on? Where democracy is supposed to be a process by which the people feel free to choose the person to lead them or to blame — it has been a major source of problems for us. And we have not been able to unshackle ourselves from that. Why?
The 2002 presidential election was controversially won by the former President Robert Mugabe, the outcome of which was challenged by the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai. That petition is still pending in the courts. The 2008 was brutal, fatal, inconclusive and controversial and resulted in a compromise Government of National Unity (GNU).
The 2013 elections, which marked the end of the GNU, were also challenged by the MDC, but the courts ruled them free and fair, allowing Zanu PF a dramatic term characterised by a military coup which deposed Mugabe from the throne. In between, the politics of chinhu chedu (it’s ours) crept in implying that this country belongs to a certain group of people and elections are nothing but a source of legitimacy.
The events of last week are no different from the humdrum that we have experienced in the past elections. The post 2018 election season is almost half way through the same 2013 elections script. The MDC Alliance filed their petition to challenge the outcome and the court will once again determine the way forward. There are several scenarios that may come out of the court processes, but chances of change are slim because Zimbabwe chinhu chavo (it’s theirs). Why waste resources on elections then when the outcomes are predetermined?
Dangerous behavioural patterns have emerged over the past two decades and they pertain to the two parties — the MDC and Zanu PF. One pattern is that Zanu PF cannot lose elections even if they are not leading. They have only conceded to one insignificant loss — the 2000 constitutional referendum. It now seems that if Zanu PF decides to concede defeat, power has to be shared but on their terms and conditions. With the recent court challenge, a GNU is a possibility and they will once not allow decision-making powers to evade them because chinhu chavo.
The other pattern is that, aware of the aging and weakening demographics of the ruling party support base, the MDC has approached every election with a loud precaution on the preamble that they can never be free and fair. Both Zanu PF and our government systems are aging, archaic and incapable of ensuring credibility of any process where it is paramount. Some of the flaws in the electoral process are not deliberate, but are merely inherent weaknesses of a dying system. Even without evidence, with the senility that prevails in that system, that preamble that elections cannot be free and fair would hold, as the system now stumbles where is it supposed to be smooth sailing. Still in that stupor, they still think chinhu ndechavo.
The ruling party is aware that they are fast thinning on the ground as the national demographics are no longer in their favour. They are happier driving the battle for power from the murky and dusty grounds where numbers do not favour them to the courts because they have mature legal minds that can win cases on merit and technicalities against the juvenile and excitable politicians of our generation.
But they also control the courts, not necessarily through direct instruction. They are the appointing authority. Bear in mind that, in our context, he who holds the gun, makes the final decision and I guess most of those in the judiciary system worry about what will happen to them should they make judgments contrary to the wishes of those who hold the gun for chinhu chavo. But the challenge with democracy is that you cannot mix it with autocracy and still call it democracy. Democracy simply means governing by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking by meeting their needs.
Sadly, as that brouhaha unfolds, there are investors who have been waiting patiently on the margins for the election season to come and pass so they can come and start business. Maybe there are many of those investors whose investments would likely create jobs for millions of our people, mainly the youth. Not only would their investment give hope to our desperate youth, but trigger economic growth by expanding the agriculture, industrialisation, construction and services sectors. May be these would spawn consumption and public investment which will together lead to growth.
Higher economic growth is what we need to address poverty. With economic growth, our authorities will have the resources to fix our roads, fund our schools and health centres and ensure access to clean water.
As all that happens, more jobs will be created and we can dream of reaching lower-middle-income status in two decades. That dream is stalled by our politics.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa