Like salesmen, Zimbabwe’s politicians are out in full force to market themselves to the electorate ahead of the 2018 polls.
By Hama Saburi
As is part of life, not everyone is gifted in whatever they do, and this also applies to our politicians.
Even though President Robert Mugabe is yet to proclaim dates for the 2018 polls, it is clearly evident that those who are seeking political office have already hit the ground running.
And from the look of it, it may not be long before Zimbabweans queue up at the polling stations to cast their ballots in an election that is promising to have lots of surprises.
In readiness for the polls, incumbents are using every trick in the book to guard their turf from aspiring candidates, who believe they have more appealing messages.
The last polls were held on July 31, 2013, which means the current administration’s five-year term ends on or before July 31, 2018. As such, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is in the process of putting its house in order to ensure that come election time, it will be all systems go.
Interestingly, former Industry minister and leader of Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA), Nkosana Moyo, has a bizarre strategy that many voters would find difficult to buy.
He said his party will not be holding rallies and that party supporters will be barred from wearing branded T-shirts and other regalia because it will put their lives at risk.
“We say no to T-shirts because it will endanger our people. We say no to uniforms so that our people will not get harmed,” he told his party faithful on Thursday.
“T-shirts are like uniforms and with uniforms you are saying you belong to a certain group. We want to build a united Zimbabwean. If I say I need to give you T-shirts, I don’t have that money so I will end up seeking for donations and to me that’s not good.
“When we get in government, if Zanu PF and MDC have some people who work hard, we are going to give them jobs. As long as you are a Zimbabwean, you are supposed to be treated equally to others,” Moyo said.
The question that arises is: Who is Moyo trying to fool?
With all due respect to him, his is not a strategy but an admission of failure. Moyo must just admit that he is finding it difficult to market APA to a weary electorate that views him as too elitist.
Instead of attempting to hide behind a finger, pretending he is trying to protect his supporters from harm by barring them from wearing party regalia as well as not holding rallies, Moyo must go back to the drawing board to avoid an embarrassing result at the polls.
He must not forget that the elections will eventually come and the truth will be out.
He must be man enough to admit that he is failing to raise money to fund APA’s activities rather than confuse his cost-cutting measures for a political strategy.
It is a well-known fact that institutions the world over require substantial budgets to promote themselves and raise their visibility.
Even during the guerrilla war of the 1970s, our freedom fighters would meet with the masses under the cover of darkness to mobilise them to support the war effort.
Moyo should therefore not fool us into believing he has a strategy when he does not have one. If he were a salesman, he would have been advised to change trades because his product does not seem to have any takers.
The MDC has said it openly that their membership is struggling to bankroll the party. The other smaller opposition parties have the same predicament, which is really nothing to be embarrassed of given the harsh economic situation that Zimbabweans are all grappling with.
This is not to suggest that Moyo is a hard sell. By merely looking at his CV, he is arguably one of the best presidential candidates that have made themselves available for selection.
Unfortunately, this is Zimbabwe where the electorate hardly consider such issues no matter how important they might be. This is why Simba Makoni failed dismally in 2008 even though he had impeccable credentials that could have easily swayed the vote in his favour.
The best Moyo can do under the circumstances is not to try to apply lipstick to a bullfrog but join hands with other opposition parties to avoid splitting the vote by forming a grand coalition.