Saturday, June 16, 2018

Put people first

Views
THE general elections are with us. What do we want as Zimbabweans? What options are available for us? I have been following with keen interest the developments that have been taking place in the political area. Parties are making use of various approaches to entice, lure and sway the electorate. Analysis have been made and criticisms offered to each party’s approach and capability to bring Zimbabwe back to where it was. However, as the masses we have our take on all what is happening.
Denis B Chinhema
With this article, I will try to dissect the various manifestos and departure points of the political parties viz-a-viz our expectations as the masses.
I will start with the former Industry minister Nkosana Moyo, who leads the Alliance for Peoples’ Agenda (APA). His party does not hold rallies, which is a total departure from the political tradition in Zimbabwe. Often times, I have seen him having more like discussion fora. In his own words, and I quote, “I prefer direct engagement because I want to hear what the people have to say and discuss possible solutions. I have met some people who ask me what I will do for them in exchange for their votes, but I tell them that I will not buy their votes. I want people to vote to save their country….” One may wonder if this system works. I personally feel that this approach is the best there can ever be. It is unfortunate that he is trying to introduce a new culture in a society that has always, since historical times, never though it can shape its own development course.
As blunt as it might appear, our society has been sedated to the extent of blindly following and offers little or no resistance to imposition of wills. The political arena, globally, regionally and internationally has been a subject to this top-bottom approach. In the development discourse, this approach often does not improve the livelihoods of the general populace. If anything, it makes the electorate mere consumers of development. This is against the spirit of sustainable development which is bottom-up approach which promotes self-reliance, social justice and participatory decision making. In short, Nkosana Moyo’s approach is consistent with a new narrative in development, which is, people-centred development.
From this, I move on to the campaign strategy of the MDC-Alliance led by who some have nicknamed ‘Mr Spaghetti road’ Nelson Chamisa. The first thing we have to know and appreciate as the electorate is that the opposition is judged on promises. Why do I say so? By and large, these people do not control fiscus and do not really control policy, especially if they do not have the majority.
Chamisa’s approach has been vibrant and exuberant, which is typical of youthies (sic). He has been moving up and down trying to convince the electorate with what some, like the BBC’s Hardtalk anchor Stephen Sackur dismissed as ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. From this I made two conclusions. The first conclusion being that as Zimbabweans, we have been trapped in mediocrity to such and extent that we view such promises as unrealistic and mere dreams. On Hardtalk, Chamisa went on to cite examples of other countries to which this has been successful. Are these countries part if the script in Alice’s in Wonderland? Secondly, I have noticed that the British, as always, feel that they have the prerogative to enjoy the best the world has to offer. They look down upon Zimbabwe as if they are the ones with the keys to our success. Besides, who are they to stop us from dreaming!!?? We define our own course as Zimbabweans.
It is appreciated that in some instances, Chamisa might have misfired, but my question is, is this phenomenon knew? We have had instances where some of the so-called gurus in politics have misfired. Former President Robert Mugabe at one point chanted Pasi ne Zanu PF, and at a meeting with war veterans admitted that Tsvangirai defeated him. Had we taken this with the seriousness we have been giving the misfiring by Chamisa, he should have explained what he meant. This to me personally shows how much as the Zimbabwean electorate have been majoring on the minors or concentrating on trivialities at the expense of our destiny.
It is common cause that Chamisa has not been giving much attention to the basic issues that have been bedevilling us. He is not harping on issues of corruption, potholes, maladministration at Zinara and other parastatals, high taxes, high interest rates, high tollgate fees, high parking fees, dilapidated education systems and infrastructure, high medical costs and so forth. If he continues turning a blind eye on these issues, he risks losing the ear and sympathy of ordinary citizens who clamour for bread and butter on their tables. At the same time, he will be giving the ruling party comfort as they will simply harmer on those issues, albeit in a top-bottom manner.
On the ruling party manifesto, this one requires me to dedicate an article specifically for this. Reading their manifesto left me with nothing else but a bag of mixed feelings. What really caught my eye the most is their highlight of people being the centre of governance. Good in theory, but this must be put into practice. The ruling party has over the years enunciated very brilliant pieces of manifestos but with little or no political will to implement. This, perhaps, may be forgiven as the “driver” of the ship has now changed.
However, what got me worried is the shallowness in the thrust of the document. I really do not think that whoever crafted that document really gave it a thought.
It is a pale shadow of the other manifestos and blueprints produced by the ruling party in the past. For instance, how can they fail to point out successes of ZimAsset when some results are there on the ground to see? They may not be plenty, but they should at least have enunciated the few. What has happened to the Kariba South Hydropower extension project? What has happened to the NetOne network expansion? This is just a snippet of what the crafters of this document should have at least attempted to write.
The other disappointing thing to me was the inclusion some aspects which we ordinarily think the government should be doing for its people, election or no election. The issue of ensuring toll fees (income) from Zinara are put to proper use, reducing tollgate fees, reducing vehicle registration fees, reducing licensing fees and reducing import duty for passenger vehicles. Do all these issues require elections first? For me, addressing these issues before elections is being people-centred. The party holds the apparatus and can change these things in no time.
This is a clear indication of how much our political leadership is detached from reality. Again, it shows the bottom-up approach to politics. Are we daft enough to the extent of not being able to map our way? Why can’t they be humble enough to engage us on a smaller scale and hear our view and concerns?
They claim to be our servants, but they make us wait at rallies for them, adumbrate and orate to us, tell us what they want to be done to us and leave the place before us. What they should know is that whatever they want to give to us, if it is not by us, then the is no development to talk of.
Development is for the people by the people. We need a paradigm shift in the way we do our politics to ensure sustainability.