There is a legend told of a sojourner who thought long and hard when he was faced with the choice to do good or evil. Despite his notorious mighty and power on one hand, and his wrathful nature on the other, for once in his life, he pondered over the choice of good or evil.
Guest column: Cyprian M Ndawana
He picked himself up from the log he was seated on, wiped his brow and said to himself: “I shall pass through this world, but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good thing that I can do, let me do it now; let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
It dawned on him that after all, he too was human; skin, flesh and bones like any other being. He took stock of his past and felt an emptiness that he never felt before. Like Apostle Paul, it became apparent to him that what he used to count as gain was after all, a loss.
Henceforth, he resolved to be kind, courteous and considerate. He turned his spear into ploughshare and his clinched fist into an open palm, ready and willing to stretch out for a warm and welcoming handshake. He became amiable, cognisant that he had one life to live.
Amid the dawning of the polling day, as I see it, if ever there was one thing in particular that must be gnawing the conscience of President Emerson Mnangagwa, it must be the choice between breaking from the past that is fraught with brutal electoral thievery.
Given the backdrop of a litany of evils that was committed on citizenry in pursuit of perpetuating the Zanu PF rule, it behooves on Mnangagwa to search his soul and, for once in his life, resolve to put the people first. He must desist from the culture of putting party first.
All what citizenry are keen on is for their inherent right to vote to be respected. While it is heartening that Mnangagwa promised to hold free, fair and credible elections, he has to go beyond mere statements of intent by actually walking his talk. He should cross the Rubicon.
However, be that as it may, it has to be stated that he is the least capable and desirable among all Presidential candidates to turn the tide of socioeconomic ruination that abounds in the country. Put simply, he is unable to unknot the knots of poverty and want.
Essentially, the task that looms large ahead for the incoming President is to dismember institutions of State from party partisanship. Over the decades, Zanu PF has benefited from partisanship of government bodies, which aught to be apolitical for democracy to prevail.
Ever since the party stripped State institutions of neutrality, the country, henceforth, fell into a socio-economic morass. Although on paper the ruling party is a separate entity from State institutions, including tribal chiefs, that is not the case in reality.
It was a deadly blow on democracy when army chiefs declared that they do not salute a President without military credentials. Now, with the very same chiefs in government and party, there are reasonable grounds for the citizenry to be wary of subversion of democracy.
As I see it, democracy has been a far cry due to wilful deprivation of such bodies as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of independence. If ever there is an evil practice that has robbed Zimbabwe of prosperity, it is the corruption by Zanu PF of State institutions.
At the heart of the dispute between Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and opposition political parties is nothing to do with her gender, as some other people peddled. It is actually all about the elections management body’s partisanship with the governing party.
Although Mnangagwa’s presidential tenure is still in its infancy, it has nonetheless been proven that he owes it to continued patronage of State institutions, among them, the army, who have also named their musical band, Crocodile Sounds, after him.
Besides his storming to power through populism and courtesy of a military intervention, soldiers recently battled to prevent people from walking out of his rallies at Bindura and Marondera. I shudder to imagine the penalty that could have been unleashed on those soldiers if they had acted likewise for any other political leader.
Given that State institutions have previously worked hand in glove with Zanu PF, it is regrettable that there is nothing new in the so-called new dispensation. The partisanship of State institutions is as intact as it has always been. In fact, it is becoming more entrenched.
His meeting with the quasi military group, the green bombers confirms the militarisation of politics. The meeting was held on backdrop of the police acting as the returning officers in Zanu PF primary elections and recruitment of a sizeable contingency of military personnel by Zec. It is worrisome that State institutions are not only partisan, but militarised also.
Recently, his regime appealed against a High Court ruling that barred tribal chiefs from political partisanship. Also, his Zanu PF is the only party that enjoys coverage by the print and electronic media, contrary to the spirit and letter of democracy.
The role of the government in all flourishing democracies is to govern, while State institutions act as pillars of society. It is unprecedented that the government goes about lying through its teeth about constructing swimming pools for an impoverished community.
It is my profound submission that it dawns on Mnangagwa as it did on the sojourner not to defer or neglect doing good. It is not from mere suspicion that he is fingered not only as the henchman of deposed for President Robert Mugabe, but as the hatchet man.
It is a past he must break away from. There is no better way of shrugging it off than by conceding to norms of democracy. Over and beyond that, he has to acknowledge the reality that the presidential task post the harmonised elections, is beyond his perspectives.
Mend it, but do not break it, is an ancient strategy of maintaining the status quo. It was used especially in resolving marital disputes. Whenever couples experienced firestorms, elders would hear both sides, then exhort couples not to end their marriages, but to mend them.
Although the strategy was not fool-proof, it was credited for the low divorce rate during our ancestors’ time. It was popular in that it allowed couples to, at least, bend their marriages, but not to end them. It is a likewise strategy Zanu PF has been using over the decades of its rule.
While the governing party did not end the holding of elections after every five years as per constitution, it, however, got away with bending electoral processes, aided by overly corrupted State institutions whose partisanship is conspicuous by its annoying presence.
Society cannot prosper when State institutions cannot function independently and transparently. Now, public confidence in most institutions, be it the police, army, Zec, parastatals, public media, Registrar-General’s Office, you name them, is absolutely low.
As I see it, the Dangotes of this world will forever shun investment destinations whose State institutions are corrupted and stripped of transparency and neutrality.
Given that Mnangagwa embodies the regime that corrupted them, he stands in poor stead to instil confidence and trust in State institutions whose corruption he spearheaded.