Today is the day the nomination court sits to accept nominations for the elections that is the councillors, MPs, and presidential candidates. Various parties are concluding on their final lists of representatives and the major parties, the MDC Alliance and Zanu PF have held primary elections.
By Munyaradzi N Ziburawa
The sitting of the nomination courts will confirm the official lists of candidates offering themselves to serve the Zimbabwean electorate. Judging from what we have seen in the primaries, we really need a signal as we decide on the calibre of individuals that we will entrust with this beloved nation for the next five years.
2018 is a critical election for Zimbabwe, probably as critical as the 1980 election, not only because of the generational dimension in which the under 40-year-olds are the majority of voters, but also because it comes just after a conspicuous transition that Zimbabwe found itself in following the November 2018 coup. The election also comes against the backdrop of an economic crisis epitomised by high unemployment, deindustrialsation and a crippling liquidity crisis. Post-2018 leadership has that mandate to reverse years of economic decline and ensure macroeconomic stability.
While we await the nomination court sitting, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has announced that there 120 parties vying for political office. Joining the fray is a multiplicity of independents of various complexion and form. While political participation is healthy for democracy, the number of political parties for such a small democracy as ours is alarming, more so, in the context of this critical and decisive national election, we surely need a sign to know how to deal with some fly-by-night parties and independents. While indeed some honourable candidates have made it across the political spectrum, we have also seen pretenders of all complexions flooding the political space across political parties.
For one to qualify as an MP or councillor, one should be a Zimbabwean and should be a registered voter who obviously would be above 18. Age and nationality as well as the voter registration status are the requirements for one to be a member of Parliament, yes, a MP, with multiple oversight and legislative responsibilities. The MP has to debate budgets and so on. Yes, in this world were letters matter, the MP in Zimbabwe is supposed to be just over 18.
Harare mayor, Benard Manyeneni is on record bemoaning the intellectual capacity of councillors as one key impediment to service delivery. Similarly, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda is on record saying MPs did not have the basic financial skills and capacity to account for a mere $50 000 Constituency Development Fund.
Surely, Zimbabwe needs a sign.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record noting that Zimbabwe is 15 years behind, indeed ,we need a signal, if the quality of some MPs and councillors we entrust to change the country is anything to go by.
It is instructive to note that constitutionally the President is mandated to choose ministers from within Parliament. Thus the calibre of parliamentarians we elect determines the quality of the Cabinet the President will command. Likewise, the quality of the Cabinet has a direct bearing on the fortunes of the fatherland.
We really need a signal. It is imperative to note that other countries like Zambia have gone beyond Athenian village democracy emphasising on just popular representation and have put in their constitutions minimum academic qualifications for MPs and councillors. Surely in the absence of such constitutional safeguards, we need a signal.
Under the “generational renewal tag” we have also seen a renewed interest by youths in aspiring for political office. There are absolute positives out of this youthful interest, but again we need a sign. Surely there could be challenges with some inexperienced novices who have never served anywhere and are not even distinguished by any other achievement, academic and otherwise aspiring to be councillor. Councillors and aldermen are not salaried, but are only given allowances to facilitate their role in giving back to society. One wonders why a recent graduate who has never worked anywhere wants to be a councillor. To do what? Council is not an industry, there are no salaries! Surely we need a sign.
Generational renewal is not about novices experimenting with service delivery. At the heart of council are serious service delivery and developmental concerns so we need people with skills, experiences and knowledge and not “tenderprenuers” confusing council as some money-spinning entity. We surely need a sign.
Integrity and principles are key requisites for leadership. We have seen blind praisesingers some of whose moral blameworthiness for the current state of affairs Zimbabwe finds itself in is very high.
Zimbabwe requires leaders who are loyal to their constituent − the people and not those who follow power even to hell. We have also seen the emergence of candidates with dubious profiles, some who have been convicted of corruption before. Corruption is a cancerous ulcer that must be removed, we surely need a signal.
We just must be ruthless with pretenders on July 30.