Lenox LIzwi Mhlanga
As much as I am known to have such a dim opinion about them, politicians run the world. They also make the decisions that make living something to look forward to or be such a pain.
We are forced to keep a close tab on what they say or do and weep at their mistakes.
With the 2018 election season well into its depth, we must grin and bear it while they contest for our precious votes. This article is deliberately neutral and for obvious reasons too! For I live by the fact that where I put my X will be known to my God and me.
The good thing about elections is that for at least once every five years, we enjoy being the bosses. Like pretty girls up for grabs, the suitors come thick and fast bearing gifts. They sweet talk and promise us the world. We have them where we want them. Grovelling for our votes.
Zimbabwe prides itself with holding timely elections, come hell, thunder, brimstone, earthquake or high water. Never mind the process itself and all the controversies associated with it. We are guaranteed to exercise our inviolable right of choice.
It’s an achievement that has been touted by many to demonstrate that we were truly democratic. I will not comment on how level or not the playing field has been level, nor regale you with tales of alleged election fraud save to say that this is what elections and the environment surrounding the process is supposed to be.
Full of suspicion, innuendoes and all manner of accusations, elections are by nature toxic.
In fact, elections do not always come up with the solutions that we yearn for. At some point in our history, we ended up with a government that was a curious contraption borne out of compromise.
It was a miracle, just like the November 2017 re-adjustment, let us call it. For the religious among us its God’s intervention that has brought us to this space. If you ask me, it would be folly for our politicians to think that they can proceed with Him.
Totally ignoring the will of God, we were privy to marathon negotiations that concocted a witch’s brew of the stale variety. How true the adage that we get the leaders we deserve. A half-baked solution that ran Zimbabwe during post 2008 was an example of throwing the bible into the Zambezi. No wonder it misfired on all cylinders.
It is in this regard that the Zimbabwean experience held lessons for the rest of the world. It was instructive to the coalition government of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in in 2010. It had all the trappings of Zimbabwe’s Government of National Unity (GNU) or “Inclusive Government” as we chose to call it. It was a product of a political crisis and was therefore a marriage of convenience.
If you look at it from all angles, it was an awkward “half human, half beast,” to quote Professor Welshman Ncube then. We had on the one hand the MDC- Tsvangirai that won the election but not enough for it to control government, and Zanu-PF the ruling party.
The gist of the questions at the Cameron-Clegg press conference on the lawns of Downing Street clearly at that time showed this. Who would field question time, chair cabinet meetings etcetera.
They should have asked how Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai fared against a belligerent President Robert Mugabe who would not hesitate to remind everyone within earshot who was in charge. His Excellency the President, Head of State and Commander of the Defence Forces ran the country and the rest were frankly told to go to hell.
Another interesting result of the “historic” coalition in the UK was the fact that a whole host of politicians who previously could only dream of being in government were thrown in at the deep end. The Liberal Democrats managed to get five senior cabinet posts and at least 15 as junior ministers. The question was whether they could swim.
In Zimbabwe, senior members from both factions of the opposition found themselves in ministerial positions that seemed more of largesse than deserved.
The obvious result was the preponderance of lame duck cabinet ministers whose claim to fame was being at the right time at the right place with the right people. The net result was a stalemate and of course several clueless characters who were later ejected by their own party.
While the Lib Dems were still pinching themselves, the question that Britons were asking was whether they had the right people for the complex job of steering the country from economic disaster and the Iraq war, one that they were not supposed to be involved in.
Soon, just like in a marriage of convenience, the novelty and euphoria of wedded bliss soon wore off as it did in Zimbabwe those years ago. When reality sunk in, that is, when the dung hit the fan, Britain found it better if not necessary to call for early elections. In Zimbabwe that was not going to be entertained.
With some lucky guys comfortably ensconced on the gravy train, that was a very farfetched prospect. While the Britons were admiring their new coalition toy, Zimbabweans both at home and abroad came to face some hard truths about the dear cost of compromise. As George Orwell would eloquently put it, the occupants of Animal Farm looked from man to pig, and from pig to man and they could not tell the difference.
Don’t be confused by this article. For it has come to my notice that there is a discernible level of excitement among Zimbabwean politicians each time there are elections in the UK. The hope being that it could have brought a shift in foreign policy and a possible lifting of sanctions.
What has been a revelation is that it has taken a conservative British government to realise the futility of past foreign policy on Zimbabwe. They have embraced the events of the past few months — even going as far as playing midwife to the new dispensation. It is something some of us never believed would happen in our lifetime.
No doubt there is hope in Whitehall that the outcome, whatever it is, of the forthcoming election will trigger a mass exodus of Babylonian proportions by Zimbabweans entrenched there. Though the rumblings are becoming audible, some are sure to consider their forsaken homeland second thought.
There is a high level of optimism. One thing that Zimbabwean diasporans are unanimous about is the fact that only free and fair elections will bring about finality to the crisis that has bedevilled this country for the past 38 odd years.
The challenge is that of politicians, ideologues and indeed demagogues to give peace a chance. We can never go back to the past, that was another country. Let us be responsible enough to produce a process that will be a worthy inheritance for future generations to come.