Stop leaving everyone behind

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Your Excellency, it was a departure from convention that the former United States President Ronald Reagan commenced his tenure with a startlement.

His 1981 inaugural speech caught many by surprise. He stated that government was not the solution to  problems, but was the problem.

Your Excellency, as I see it, this startlement is food for thought for Zimbabweans. Truly, your speeches on the campaign trail for the recent by-elections were by and large insidious. They bordered markedly close to a series of readings of satanic verses.

Essentially, the speeches were conspicuous by discordance between the theme, leaving no one and no place behind, and the reality on the ground. It was dispiriting that contrary to the spirit of inclusion of the theme, they went off tangent.

Methinks you were on a rampage, howling threats to anyone, including chiefs who support the opposition. With the declaration that government does not hesitate to dethrone a chief who supports the opposition, the crusade against pluralism was altogether baneful.

It came on the backdrop of the removal and subsequent persecution of the immediate past Chief Ndiweni from Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North province. Surely, government showed itself to be on a warpath against divergence. Added to that were the burning coal shovelled at a chief from Masvingo.

Methinks your threat to sabotage development projects in opposition-run local authorities is blatantly baleful. Inherent in the expression to sabotage enhancement of public amenities should your party, Zanu PF, lose the urban vote was vile.

Granted, it was despotic in word and deed. It amounted to the pronouncement of the death sentence that you implored any chief who supports the opposition to conduct a cleansing ceremony and ask his ancestors why they would have forsaken him.

Although the Constitution bars chiefs from being members of any political party, or in any manner to engage in partisan politics, there are some who have declared their membership for Zanu PF. Yet, such chiefs never evoked your wrath.

Your Excellency, duly, the gravity of your harshness was a departure from the realm of campaign discourse. It was an utterance that did not brook pluralism. It reflected an all encompassing severity with determination to subjugate at any cost, be it arm, leg, limb or even life.

It was not mere coincidental that human life perished during the run-up to the by-elections. An opposition member was crushed like a louse in the Midlands province. His demise was correlational with a series of presidential  demagogues.

Mr President, the theme for the 42nd independence commemorations, Leaving No One and No Place Behind, exposed the duplicity nature of your administration. Contrary to the theme, the so-called new dispensation has been decidedly leaving many people and places behind.

At the St Mary’s, Chitungwiza rally, you declared in front of God and man that government does not recognise the opposition. You vowed that if residents wanted government to listen to their concerns and address them, they will have to send them via channels which government recognises, and not through the opposition.

Essentially, politics is inherently contentious. It is an open marketplace of competing ideas whose objective is to transform conflicts into compromised solutions. There are no controversies, even that of advocating for a separate State, as the case with the Mthwakazi Republic Party, which warrant lives to be cut short.

It is distinctively authoritarian that you regard their separatist philosophy as looking for premature deaths. There is an apparent disharmony between this kind of tough talk and the embracing spirit which the theme, leaving no one and no place behind, is meant to convey.

It goes with no further ado that due to your non-recognition of the opposition, you are content leaving it and the places it administers behind. As I see it, the Local Government ministry has been wilfully sabotaging service delivery in urban councils.

One has to be a well-versed statistician to tally the number of times mayors and counsellors have been suspended or arrested. Basically, urban councils’ decision-making processes have been hampered by lack of quorum due to arrests and suspensions.

Duly, there has been a lot of State-instituted sabotaging of service delivery in opposition-run local authorities. While the arrests and suspensions have been toilsome, the parent ministry turned the screws through underhand practices such as deliberate budget approval  delays.

Little wonder opposition-run urban councils, so as the opposition counsellors, have long been left behind, contrary to the theme, leaving no one and no place behind. Given your admission that you do not recognise the opposition, coupled with the quick-paced frequencies of arrests and suspensions of mostly the elected officers, your theme is basically hollow.

Apparently, the falsity of the theme is evidenced by the plight of the diaspora population which is denied the right to cast their vote. Their fervent plea for the right to vote was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in May 2018.

“After considering all arguments before the court, it was agreed that the application could not stand. It is, therefore, dismissed with no order as to costs,” read the judgment. It further said that the Constitution did not anticipate that there would be diasporans as the case now.

It is an irony of leaving no one and no place behind that no consideration has been given to change the Electoral Act to enable diasporans to exercise their voting rights.

Yet, the same diasporans, which government wants to woo so they can invest in Zimbabwe, are indebted to over US$1 million in remittances from across the globe, but government does not want them to participate in the voting process back home.

It is not a big ask to expect an amendment to the section of the Electoral Act which prohibits citizens who have been living outside the country for 12 months to vote. Ordinarily, if yours was truly a government for the people, there could be no need for it to be prodded.

Your Excellency, it is my fervent conviction that the desonance of the theme and prevailing reality in the country is apparent. As I see it, owing to obstinacy, government is the problem, not the solution to the here-to-stay socio-economic meltdown.

Truly, the recent global research on happiness revealed that Zimbabweans are the least happy citizens, which confirms the inevitability that a butcherly government is without honour. Verily, the Reagan startlement is pertinent to our perpetual dilemma.