If one is to walk in the streets of Harare or read through the newspapers listening to the political narrative, one will be convinced beyond doubt that Zimbabwe is going for elections early next year. It has not been a year since we had the legislative assembly elections and the presidential elections but already it seems all political parties and actors are back into the election mode. Party factionalism, candidate endorsements and politicking have suddenly become the order of the day. The narrative even carries a date, ‘2023’ which happens to be the date for the next general elections in Zimbabwe.
By Lennon Manyengawana
Last week, Zanu Pf, held their annual Conference in Esigodini. It was the first conference after the election victory. Amongst the theme expectations was the theme of the state of affairs of the economy. Everyone expected it to be top of the agenda as the economy is ailing and failing. Everyone expected the Conference to proffer solutions to the suffering of the people since Zanu Pf, being the ruling party, controls the Cabinet which is the central decision making body in the country. It is no secret that the economy is failing as it is seen in fuel queues, hike in prices, inflationary rates, rise of cost of living and general poverty. This was supposed to come up in the conference but this narrative was muted by the narrative of candidate endorsement. All structures came out to endorse Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zanu Pf’s 2023 presidential candidate.
In as much as it is good and necessary for a political party to consolidate itself and set its course clear there is always a point where election fever has to deescalate to give in room for developmental agendas. The country has a crisis and this crisis has to be treated like one lest the leaders be misconstrued as power mongers unlike their claim to be servant leadership. For one to rule without problems, they have to posses three integral facets of politics which are Power, Legitimacy and Authority. Power has already been consolidated by the support of the army and securocrats, legitimacy was acquired through winning elections which leaves us with the last element which Mnangagwa has to earn is it is not simply given. Authority comes from respect and recognition than through systems, hence he has a mandate to fix the economy and create a clear trajectory for development in order to earn it hence he has to climb down from the high horse of election mode in order to reach the grassroots of development.
The opposition also forgets that it has an integral role in national development and they also need to sober up in such times when the people need them. Sadly the opposition is also in election mode as seen by the splits and fights as they approach their Congress next year. Before they can even introspect or retrospect about their just ended election defeat to Zanu Pf , in house squabbles have already arisen on who is to be the presidential candidate come 2023. The fights have been so intense that the party congress dates had to be moved several times. You then ask yourself, who is providing the oversight function or are they even thinking that come 2023, their constituencies would have starved to death?
Indeed the opposition is not the government of the day in totality but it should also look more than just an opposition but should take the shape and structure of a government in waiting. Instead of sabotage and smearing of the government, the opposition should be assisting its people through developmental initiative, proffering solutions to the economic crisis, lobbying reforms across the governance spectrum and educating people in order to improve citizen participation in government processes.
The legislators themselves do not make the situation any better. It seems a great bulk of them do not understand their duties as legislatures. Every now and then the media is awash stories of fights between legislatures particularly Temba Mliswa and Mayor Wadyejena, kicking each other out of parliamentary committees and attacks on characters. All this hinders progress as it diverts attention of the people from important things such as economic development.
It is time that the country as a whole exits the self imposed honeymoon break that we have been taking and channel our energy and efforts to economic revival. Election mode does no good to the country as it leaves the economy on auto pilot whereas there is need for positive control and steering of the economy by all stakeholders.