Joram Nyathi Spectrum
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he will not accept defeat, or will reject it, if he loses next year’s harmonised elections. That’s his own look out. Recent surveys show that Zanu-PF and President Mugabe are trusted better than opposition parties. Tsvangirai claims to be the face of the opposition in Zimbabwe. The mathematics is pretty simple why he is preparing for a negative result which he will reject.
But that’s not the big story. The big story is an old one. When we talk about a national election in a serious sense, we must all know we are not talking about an upcoming beauty contest.
Let us not fool people, or at least waste their time about empty-headed coalitions, especially spectacles choreographed for the media. Elections should be a serious matter, they are about the fate of a nation, a matter of survival. Above all, elections are about the well-being of a nation.
Elections will be won by the party which promises to or brings food to the dinner table. And we are not just talking about Command Agriculture. We are talking about a broad range of policy issues which make the pursuit of happiness and illusions like democracy plausible.
Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk drastically since the experiment with Esap in the 1990s. Some old industries have died. Part of old manufacturing sector has collapsed, along with its white owners.
Tsvangirai and his MDC-T colleagues may plead innocence in this. Unfortunately they have performed badly in preparing their supporters for the emerging new economy, an economy which looks beyond the search for jobs. They imagine they can win an election by repeatedly asking the idle question: Where are the 2,2 million jobs Zanu-PF promised in 2013?
From the ruins of Esap, the only thing the MDC and Tsvangirai appear to have picked up is a derivative of this neo-liberal economic posture, the opium of democracy. It sounds nice to the ear, empty in the stomach. It will not sell. That means even a grand coalition doesn’t guarantee the opposition victory in the absence of a policy framework with clear deliverables.
So far the tendency has been to use democracy to give us a litany of supposed shortcoming or gross failures by the Zanu-PF Government. Those, people can see for themselves, they can justify or explain them.
What people are looking for are solutions, a party which promises to be an alternative, not merely a substitute for Zanu-PF. That’s to say it is possible to garner protests votes here and there, but the surveys and analysts’ findings still indicate a majority of Zimbabweans would rather stand by Zanu-PF.
The reasons might be hard to believe for an opposition which deludes itself into believing that President Mugabe’s departure translates into democracy or that electoral reforms mean victory for them.
People trust Zanu-PF because it has policies which are anchored on the ground. No serious political party can ignore the contents of Zim-Asset and purport to be talking to Zimbabweans about national development. It is a policy document which can be adapted to any economic set-up. It is a document which goes beyond Zanu-PF and its five-year mandate.
It addresses issues of food security, health, “jobs”, the entire economy and how Zimbabwe can empower its people. It takes a closer look at people’s accommodation needs.
It has its focus on the new economy rising out of the rubble of a colonial economy which was ravaged by Esap because it failed to adapt.
And it is this neo-liberal thesis which the MDC still supports when it opposes Government interventions like Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which seek to protect our infant manufacturing sector and new farmers. Instead, the opposition wants to promote the view that we are better off as consumers, a huge supermarket for imported goods.
Study after study has echoed a familiar tune; no country can develop without a strong industrial base. President Mugabe managed to take that message to the podium of the African Union. It was accompanied by clear messages about value addition and beneficiation of primary produce.
This must move along with an equal emphasis on energy and infrastructure development. In short, the solution to Zimbabwe’s current challenges is increased production and consumption of local products. The market is there; the same market which consumes foreign goods.
The opposition missed the train again on indigenisation. It is another policy thrust that’s echoing across the region if not the developing world. South Africa is seized with the debate on economically empowering the black majority.
It is no longer a matter of if but when. Monopoly capital, or what they choose to call “share capital”, is ill at ease. Just as in Zimbabwe, there is fierce resistance to economic transformation down south. Zimbabwe is already miles ahead.
Despite its deliberate mischaracterisation, indigenisation is not inimical to foreign investment. It simply means Zimbabweans must get maximum benefit from their resources. Zimbabweans must have a say in how those resources are exploited because we hold them in trust for future generations. It can’t be laissez faire.
That’s why it is worrying that Government has not operationalised the Sovereign Wealth Fund envisaged in Zim-Asset. We are harvesting and consuming everything today.
Second, contrary to malicious propaganda partly manufactured by the opposition, indigenisation is not a threat to individual property rights. The share percentages are clear between locals and foreigners.
Indigenisation is a fight against legalised colonial injustice. In fact the main thrust of that policy was and has remained focused on getting our land back; not about seizing legitimate established companies.
In mining the aim is simply to stop the plunder that has characterised the exploitation of African resources where the owners of the resource are reduced to mere labourers who can be fired at the whim of the foreign employer.
Africa as a whole has very little to show for all the centuries that its mineral wealth has been exploited and exported in its raw form for value addition overseas. We cannot continue along the same route and expect the continent to develop.
If proof were required, mineral exploitation provides more than enough that our salvation doesn’t reside in unregulated so-called foreign direct investment, hence the deliberate policy intervention by government to give the economy a new trajectory.
It would be naïve to expect unqualified support for this from a private sector otherwise dominated by American and British companies. It’s got to be taken as a fight.
So, next year’s harmonised elections won’t be beauty contest. They are about the economy. They are about concrete policy proposals. They go beyond street protests. And from a policy perspective, Zimbabwe’s opposition has been crowded out.
Short of a miracle victory. They are free to reject, deny or dispute the results of national surveys and attack them as Zanu-PF propaganda.
So long as they don’t reject, dispute or attack the final elections results as Zanu-PF propaganda again. We have been through the rigging alibi which has never been proven. The legal dictum is that he who alleges must prove.