ZIMBABWE’S political scene is fast changing, several parties have been launched in the past couple of weeks. However, the political discourse has not moved an inch.
The Constitution has a section on political rights. Citizens can form or join a political party of their choice. Granted, people have rights, but what is the choice of colours when all that is on offer are overalls?
The sprouting of these parties proves beyond doubt two issues — greediness and rotten political parties’ internal systems.
Greediness has been watered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s approach to politics. In a purported bid to bring national healing and cohesion, he has awakened the demons in ambitious people.
The Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform, while noble, has been abused. Participating parties have been rewarded with vehicles and other trinkets.
It has become a feeding trough for the political wannabes.
It is interesting that the funding of the cars and associated trinkets has been done through the Office of the President and Cabinet. There was a deliberate evasion of the political parties funding structures.
Mnangagwa has bought co-operation from the opposition. This is despite the fact that he could interact and co-operate with the opposition using existing constitutional structures like Parliament and local authorities.
It is interesting to interrogate why Mnangagwa’s administration has not used bi-partisanship to push new laws and amendments to contentious laws.
Therefore, the Polad platform remains a structure that is informal and has no power to enact or change policies or laws. It’s simply a pressure valve.
So, what is the reward for joining Polad if it cannot effect change, real change that the opposition has been seeking and citizens yearn for?
They are joining because there are personal rewards to be derived therefrom. It has nothing to do with the nation, but all to do with their personal interests.
Has the Zimbabwean citizen benefited from this? Has his/her choices vastly increased? Both questions can be answered in the negative.
All the parties, including Zanu PF and the opposition MDC formations, have a neoliberal economic agenda.
You listen to one party leader speaking and you have heard them all. They differ on personalities and probably implementation.
That is precisely why all parties only talk about their leaders, the leaders’ ages and convoluted historical narratives.
Over the last two years, we have not heard a critique of economic or environmental policies. It’s all personalities, stupid.
In short, we are having 50 shades of neoliberalism. Is that a choice? Hell no! It’s like getting to a dinner and told you can choose anything except that the buffet has differently prepared chicken.
Is it that the parties are clever or the citizens are simply naive? It seems the latter is true.
Citizens are blinded by personalities than ideas. They will back their horses. They will not be bothered by issues of substance or ideas. The level of political consciousness is next to zero for 80% of the electorate.
This brings us to the question: Does Zimbabwe need more political parties or more political ideologies/policy positions?
It is becoming apparent that it is not more political parties that Zimbabwe needs, but increased ideologies and policies.
We need a counter narrative to neoliberalism. And it is emerging that, for now, despite that neoliberalism has been oversold, local politicians are both blind and ignorant to alternatives.
Is this what Zimbabweans want? We have not heard any opposition to privatisation of water, electricity, transport, education or health from the opposition in its different shades?
More importantly, it is also worth to note that if the parties are not different ideologically, then who is funding them?
It is now apparent that besides those fronting neoliberalism and seeking external validation, other party poopers are financed by the current administration to make the political pool murky.
One can conclude that the dust being raised by the mushrooming political parties is meant to make the citizens confused, diverted from the real issues that the government should grapple with as a matter of urgency.
The economy needs to be working, hospitals restoring life to the ill and schools teaching students. The dual currency should be sorted and bring stability.
Dollarisation is unhelpful and has never prospered any nation that adopted it.
Zimbabweans have to be more organised and proactive, explore the horizon beyond neoliberalism and be smart enough not to fall for diversionary tactics
Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.