The Bane of Electioneering and Sloganeering

Martin Luther King Jnr once said about stupidity: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” From what we have seen so far in the campaign trail leading to Election 2018, one could be forgiven for suggesting that in politics stupidity is more of a virtue than a handicap, and we are talking of collective stupidity here; that of the leader and the led.

We have heard harebrained utterances ranging from infantile promises to the ludicrous.

We now know that neither Donald Trump nor anyone from his administration ever promised any Zimbabwean bailout money to the tune of $15 billion, yet our people were made to cheer for that nonsense at a campaign rally.

We cannot be as stupid as to believe that anyone we will choose to be our President in 2018 will within their constitutional mandate be able to link Harare and Bulawayo with bullet train rail services, given that it costs about $5.4 million per kilometre in construction costs to build bullet train infrastructure, let alone factoring the cost of the bullet trains themselves.

Yet our people were made to ululate over such a promise.

Apologists of the man who made the silly promises equate him to the dreaming Joseph of the biblical fame. But Joseph was a God seeker, not a vote seeker.

Our trusting villagers in Murehwa are probably looking forward to an airport next to Murehwa Centre, and a cargo plane that will be ferrying their farm produce to international destinations right from their village area, thanks to promises from one of our aspiring presidential candidates.

Well, the man can lay claim to anything he may so wish; like declaring credit for revolutionising Rwanda’s ICT by mere shaking of that country’s President’s hand at some international gathering.

He even had the temerity to produce the handshake pictures to bolster his claim.

It appears like the louder the sloganeering and the singing the greater the vote mobilisation, and the more ludicrous the promises.

The academic question in this election is can the MDC Alliance win this coming election, not will it win?

Of course it will not win.

The Harare march we saw on June 5 on claimed electoral reforms is a mere cry by the Alliance for a credible, free and fair election defeat; and this writer does not see ZANU-PF failing to deliver on that.

Come July 30, the defeat will be delivered in a free, fair and credible manner acceptable to all.

This election is about ZANU PF under Mnangagwa and the MDC-T under Chamisa.

Chamisa has seen that MDC-T cannot and will not match the ZANU-PF election machinery, and that is why he is coming under the banner of an alliance with other inadequate political outfits with no chance whatsoever of ever winning an election in Zimbabwe.

But six weak parties add up to six weak parties the way six zeroes add up to nothing, but six zeroes.

What we see today is ED Mnangagwa coming into this election in the name of an ideologically reformed ZANU-PF, an investor-friendly political outfit ready to engage investment wheels of this world.

On the other hand, the MDC Alliance believes it has found impetus in the person of Nelson Chamisa.

Does Chamisa have the individual clout to bring down the monstrous institutional might of ZANU PF?

Virtually the MDC-T as a party is a silent factor in this election, yet the Alliance is a creature that hardly has an identity among Zimbabwean voters.

There are no structures at all in the Alliance, except an agreement on the presidential candidate.

Tendai Biti, Elias Mudzuri, Agrippa Mutambara and Welshman all hope to deputise Chamisa in the unlikely event that he wins the election, yet Chamisa himself cannot tell who is second in charge in the alliance; for fear of deadly reprisals.

It is easy to isolate Mnangagwa from ZANU PF and to start imagining a trouncing victory over him in an election: as Chamisa is certainly doing; but it is a completely different thing to face a Zanu-PF Presidential candidate in an election like we are having on July 30.

ED has an illustrious political career to his name, but he is coming into election 2018, not as a messiah, but as the front face of a reformed ZANU-PF whose only mandate is to open Zimbabwe for business with the rest of the world.

In other words, Mnangagwa is powered by the institutional might of ZANU-PF, while Chamisa believes he powers the MDC Alliance by his perceived charisma and fluency.

ED Mnangagwa is a very patient and resilient silent revolutionary whose record has now become apparent.

Surely he did not survive the deadly plotting from former president Robert Mugabe and his all marauding rapacious wife so he could be defeated by a mere opportunist whose stolen mandate was necessitated by the tragedy of death on the part of Morgan Tsvangirai.

I am afraid the Alliance and Chamisa are where ED wants them to be, and I can only imagine what awaits the excitable novices in the coming weeks.

This is not propaganda to prop Mnangagwa, but sheer analytical observation on events obtaining at the moment, especially in regards to the new democratic space in the country.

We know that the MDC-T under Tsvangirai imploded under factionalism, and in the process expelled many sitting MPs from Parliament, necessitating unnecessary by-elections that were largely won by ZANU-PF after the MDC chickened out of the races fearing further humiliation by ZANU-PF, after the humiliating trouncing in Election 2013.

Of course, we were told at the time that the MDC-T was not going to legitimise “stolen elections” by participating in these by-elections.

We knew at the time that come Election 2018, the MDC-T would overrule its boycott mantra and head straight for the election, and that is exactly what has happened, despite all the bravado that there will be no election until Chamisa and his friends say so.

I heard Chamisa saying ZEC cannot hold an election unless he agrees, and I did not know whether to laugh or to feel sorry.

The truth is Chamisa is too ambitious to boycott this election, and even if he were principled enough to follow up on his threats, the election would proceed without him; and he and his friends would do absolutely nothing about it, except sliding into political oblivion.

We need politicians whose lives are committed to the realisation of defined convictions.

Instead, we have this unfortunate reality where any fool with eloquence of speech and a voice can pull it through the electoral process.

We have for a long time rewarded mediocrity to our own detriment.

We have for long confused cheap populism for revolution and this needed to stop. Mnangagwa has departed from the cheap revolutionary rhetoric of yesteryear to pragmatic engagement with the world so Zimbabwe can be back in business again.

July 30 is only seven weeks away, and we are heading into an election that will define an end to the era of gross economic deprivation.

It is easier to run an opposition than government, yet our opposition is currently more chaotic than the ruling party.

It is hard to see how a political outfit so chaotic can count itself capable of running an entire country.

The electorate has to choose between the completion of work in progress by ED Mnangagwa and the fanciful promises by one Chamisa; who is dismally failing to stamp authority within his faction of the feuding MDC-T, if the chaos in the primary elections is anything to go by.

For the first time since 2000, we are having an election that will surely come with transformation for the voter.

Indeed the transformation has already started with the many investment deals that have already been lined up for implementation.

We can only go forward now, not backwards again.

Gone are the Zhuwao-Kasukuwere days where politicians would openly brag about partisan utilisation of national resources for vote-buying; those days of superior political beings who enjoyed immunity from political competition or contestation.

Then we used to be told that contesting certain politicians constituted the crime of “undermining the party,” and at one time we were even told investigating a thieving Jonathan Moyo amounted to “a national security threat.”

Now all that is behind us as ZANU-PF goes into this election with candidates that were democratically elected through primary elections within the party, although some of them stand on contested results.

On the other hand we have a blinkered opposition whose idea of open-mindedness is tantamount to having brains falling out of the skull.

Our opposition politicians believe the electorate should all turn up and vote for opposition candidates purely on the basis of this hate they have for their political opponents in Zanu-PF.

It is a grave mistake to believe that there is a contagious hate for ZANU-PF across Zimbabwe, and it is equally harebrained to hope delusions of grandeur are transformable into hard reality.

There is no revolution without material transformation — the kind of transformation that resulted in us seeing the mass construction of schools, clinics, dams, roads and the rapid urbanisation drive in the aftermath of national independence.

We cannot meaningfully deride the shortcomings of Zanu-PF today without acknowledging the party’s moments of success in the past.

This is something our opposition will need to learn fast. It is simply preposterous to say Zimbabwe has been a sorry state for the past 38 years. We started off among the best of the best in Africa, and we stayed at the top for almost two decades. We are still among the best in terms of human resources, and there is nothing that can take away that.

But we must of necessity take stock of our politics; and frankly the last 16 years have been an amorous embarrassment. We ended the last millennium with the life-wrecking policies of the IMF-prescribed Esap; and we chose to start the current millennium with popular people-oriented policies like land reclamation and economic indigenisation.

But our implementation of these policies was more political than economic, and that did not do us any good from a developmental point of view. We have to accept that.

We have learnt the sad way that there is a whole world of difference between populism and pragmatism. Development is not a political process, but an economic one.

Our politicians distributed freebies for votes and we ruined our land resource in the process. Simply put, agriculture is not the mere availability of farming land; and business is not merely the ownership of shares, like Zhuwao wanted us to believe.

We cannot successfully run this country without production-oriented politics. Gone are the days of promising our youths loans for votes, or housing stands for votes.

Financial loans are for business minded people, not for mere voters; and housing stands must be for serious homebuyers, not for voters who are happy to die living in shacks.

Our land in the rural areas is communally owned, as must be the case, and urbanised land can be individually purchased with title deeds securing tenure.

The fairness behind this is one can purchase their legal right to that land, just like all of us can claim our collective legal right of communal ownership of rural land, mutually transferable from generation to generation.

Giving a few hundreds of people free housing land in the name of national developmental policy would be an insult to the theory of public policy, and that is why this current administration has departed from such cheap politicking.

Many will remember Jonathan Moyo openly bragging about how he had swindled Zim-DEF student funds so he could purchase bicycles to buy votes in his rural constituency. That era is now behind us, and must be behind us for good.

We must free ourselves from the ruin of hate politics and the politics of populism.

A hopeless opposition inviting ruinous sanctions on the entire country in order to fell the once populist Zanu-PF has not been helpful to us as a nation in the past.

With ZANU-PF reforming for the better, we expect the opposition to mature into a meaningful alternative, not the protest movement that believes in rising to power through the economic strangulation of the country.

We must guard against any policy implementation that rises and dies with the event of an election. Gone are the days of cheap populism, and in is the era of genuine development.

We had far too many of hardworking urban home seekers fleeced of their hard earned cash by miscreants who came in the name of Zanu-PF in the past.

The ZANU-PF we have had after November 15, 2017 must never ever again harbour in its power corridors those criminal land barons of yesteryear.

How many innocent families have in the past toiled to put up a decent home on these so-called State land stands, only to have their houses demolished not too long after completion?

We need to bring to an end this era where the politician banks on the naivety and gullibility of the voter. We have to move on as a nation and start thinking progressively and meaningfully. We have rewarded backwardness and mediocrity for far too long.

We have had to put up with attention-seekers masquerading as dawning messiahs in our midst for a long time. It is time every pretender in our politics is taken to task to prove his or her mettle.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.

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