New Party Splits vote: Is the Zimbabwe political platform big enough to welcome United African National Council (UANC)?
As Zimbabwe welcomes the re-launching of UANC, it is a time for a deep reflection, is our political platform big enough for another political party. We have been told that there is no alternative to ZANU PF. We have also been told that any introduction of a new political party splits votes. But is this really true, we need to reflect.
The first ten years of Zimbabwe’s independence, President Mugabe made it clear that there is no other qualified person to lead Zimbabwe except him. Even in the 1980s, his ambitions to become life President were evident, though strongly resisted by many Zimbabweans, as evidenced by the rejection of the referendum.
The arrival of ZUM placed Edgar Tekere as a serious contender on Zimbabwe’s political stage. However, ZANU PF’s repressive hand mercilessly sent him into oblivion. As the economy continued to deteriorate, the then young secretary general of ZCTU, Morgan Tsvangirai, put on his fighting gloves and entered the political arena. And for a moment the Movement for Democratic change (MDC) brought hope to an otherwise hostile political environment.
At that point ZANU PF made it clear that there was no room for any other participants on Zimbabwe’s political stage. We witnessed the brutal beatings of Morgan, which resulted in serious injury and hospitalization. We also witnessed the beatings, maiming and killing of innocent opposition party supporters, who dared to challenge ZANU PF. Indeed there was no room for any other political parties on the Zimbabwean political platform.
However, disgruntled by ZANU PF’s corruption, misrule and mismanagement of the economy, Zimbabweans gradually began to realize that, in fact there is room for greater participation on the political arena. People with different views began to engage in the political process despite the oppressive regime. We witnessed the mushrooming of various political warriors, the likes of Simba Makoni. We also witnessed MDC splitting three ways, alongside Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and most recently Tendai Biti. We witnessed a new form of activism from the young and powerful Promise Mkwananzi’s Tajamuka and Zvorwadza’s National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe. We witnessed lone activism that grew like wild fire, this-Flag with Pastor Evan Mawirire, and human rights activist, the likes of Patson Dzamara, Justina Mukoko and Fadzayi Mahere. Like a cornered injured bull, we also saw ZANU PF, bleeding from within, internal squabbles and feeling the heat, they continued to use drunkonian laws to subvert the voice and will of the people.
With so many players on Zimbabwe’s political arena, the question that many are asking, is there any room for another political party. Indeed a culture has been brewing in Zimbabwe that says “there is no room for too many players, we will split the votes”. Others have become rather cynical of anyone who seeks to enter into politics given ZANU PF’s history of looting.
The irony of the Zimbabwean political platform is that whereas the culture of exclusion started with ZANU PF’s oppressive regime, it has spilled to the very people that resent Zanu Pf’s culture of intolerance. Many political parties in particular the ones who have been in existence for some time, appear to feel threatened when new political parties enter the political arena. It appears we have internalized ZANU PF’s culture of exclusion to the point that we are comfortable settling for less. We continue to recycle dead wood, as we believe there is no alternative. We have become closed off to new blood. Recently Dr Manyika was interrogated for daring to exercise his constitutional right to participate in the political process. He was met with cynicism and criticisms, simply because he was forced by the Mugabe regime, like so many Zimbabwean loving citizens, to seek for jobs elsewhere.
Zimbabweans, let stop and reflect. As another political party the United African National Council, enters into the political arena, we need to examine – what is democracy all about?. I believe democracy is the freedom to choose the leaders that best represents your interests. Democracy is about examining the ideological underpinnings of each political party to determine if their values and beliefs represent your needs and the needs of your children. Democracy is about saying no to corruption, no to a culture of exclusion and above all, no to self-serving leaders.
Democracy is also about saying yes to leadership that allows for inclusiveness, participation, and rule of law. Democracy is about holding our leaders accountable and not blind loyalty. Democracy is about having leaders who understand that if they do not work for us they do not deserve our votes.
What democracy is not about is seeing yourself living in poverty, seeing your children suffering, driving in roads that could kill you, drinking dirty water and being intimidated to support a political party that has only used you and your children as their personal property. Democracy is about knowing that despite intimidation, you have the right to choose the leader that cares for you and your family.
If you do not participate in the political process it is as good as supporting a political party that has not represented your interests and the interest of your children for the past 37 years. As well, when you blindly criticize new ideas without seeking the truth of what new political parties stand for, you may very well be rejecting ideas that represent your interests and the interest of your children and future.
Zimbabwe we are at a cross road. We can either choose the next 5 years of the same suffering and hopelessness or we can become more inclusive and see what other political parties have to offer. When we make that choice, make sure to choose a leader who has the best interest of people at heart.
@Shamiso Gwiza can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org