Zim will prosper if we speak for the suffering, not for politicians

Tendai R Mbofana

THERE is a justifiable reason why I never became a politician and have stayed clear from participating in party politics.

One simply needs to go through social media and the reason will be right there for all to see.

There is never a shortage of multitudes of people, possibly in their hundreds or even thousands, deeply immersed in feverishly propping up and championing the “greatness” of their political parties and leaders.

On the other hand, these same people never waste an opportunity to throw barbs at each other — by castigating, ridiculing and even spewing vitriol against rival political groupings.

On the surface, this may seem as “normal” political contestation, which is to be expected in any democracy.

What is wrong with that? Besides, do we not witness the same “political rivalries” playing out in other democracies as South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, and even far off as the United States, the United Kingdom, and others?

Well, that is where my issues with politics are laid bare, which have made me resist all spirited endeavours, over the decades, to recruit me into several political parties.

In all this expending of energy, time and even money, where are the voices of the ordinary man, woman and child on the street who are facing untold poverty and suffering, with no one to turn to?

As we shout on top of our cyber voices telling everyone and anyone who is on social media how amazing and marvellous our political leaders are, as well as how totally despicable and horrid their rivals are, who is to speak for those cancer patients reeling under unbearable excruciating pain, without access to the much-needed treatment?

Who is to bring to public attention, and to the ears of those in authority, the miserable plight of those impoverished citizens who are going without adequate food, living in abject poverty, and their children unable to attend school?

Why are we not spending our time highlighting the daily struggles of urban dwellers who have gone for months or years without tap water in their homes and forced to fetch the precious liquid from distant boreholes, or unsafe sources, or have become a bother to neighbours who have private boreholes?

Why are these images and stories not also flooding the internet the same way we love megaphoning the magnificence of our political leaders, or the ineptitude of their rivals?

Surely, can telling the story of that elderly woman, who has to take care of her orphaned grandchildren yet lacking any resources to fend for them due to her old age and poverty not make such a significant impact than merely propagating how great our leaders are, or their rivals’ uselessness?

I honestly believe that those of us with the privilege to reach thousands, if not millions of people — who may include those in authority — can be world changers, and make a huge impact in others’ lives if we placed more emphasis on telling the stories of the suffering and poor.

When their sorry state becomes known by the generality of the population, this can then galvanise them to make a collective effort in assisting the suffering or using their power to exert pressure on those in authority.

There is power in the people — and, a united people can move mountains and change a country.

The main reason we never seem to be breaking free from the shackles of poverty is because we are not united and do not speak with one voice.

This is a feat far surpassing a political party or leader whose objectives, in most cases, are limited to merely either attaining and retaining power.

As such, it becomes rather troubling when we invest so much time, effort and resources on the political ambitions of individuals than seeking to address the suffering of the ordinary citizenry.

Let us remember that political parties and politicians, by their very nature, are more interested in their own self-serving power agendas.

Furthermore, due to the nature of democracy, they require public support —through the electoral process — for the fulfilment of these objectives.

In so doing, they will obviously say all the right things, that they know we, the ordinary citizenry, want to hear.

It is akin to a man courting a woman. He portrays himself as the most romantic, loving and compassionate creature ever to walk the face of the planet, only to reveal the selfish cruel monster in him once his objectives (whatever they may be) have been accomplished.

This is never different from politics and politicians.

That is why I have kept far away from party politics despite being pestered by various politicians for me to work with them as I would have been compromised, thereby diverting my attention from what really matters to me — the people of Zimbabwe.

I know that we can make a much greater impact in both the citizenry’s lives and the country as a whole by focusing more on the plight of the people than on serving the agendas of politicians.

In fact, a united people can make more difference in a country as they speak and stand as one force to pile pressure on those in authority without being divided along political lines.

We are all facing immense suffering and poverty in Zimbabwe, irrespective of political party affiliation.

When we allow ourselves to be divided, we achieve nothing in forcing the change we want from those in authority.

That is why I never take sides in the country’s political divide as I choose not to pull any punches, whether I am dealing with the ruling party-run central government, or opposition-led urban local authorities.

I am never motivated by partisan considerations in my approach since that would not only be counter-intuitive and unintelligent, but counter-productive and self-defeating.

Surely, what sense is there in me keeping quiet and choosing to see or speak no wrong, yet facing unspeakable suffering, simply because those in authority (be it in national or local government) are of my political party?

Nonetheless, if we moved away from focusing on our partisan party affiliations and choosing to acknowledge that we are all enduring suffering at the hands of those in leadership regardless of their political party, we can achieve more working as a united people.

In fact, if we stopped campaigning for individuals but started speaking for the suffering, then Zimbabwe will be a prosperous nation.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected].


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