I would rather vote for a president who doesn’t even have a dollar in his bank account as he also shares in my suffering!

Source: I would rather vote for a president who doesn’t even have a dollar in his bank account as he also shares in my suffering!

As the debates over the recently gazetted outrageous extortionary nomination fees for prospective presidential and parliamentary electoral candidates rages on – several hypotheses have been propagated, as to the logic in such an incomprehensible move, which will clearly discriminate against the poor and underprivileged from participating in the country’s democratic processes.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

From the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) point of view – as the ones who pushed for this rather outlandish colonial era move, which is set to reverse the hard-won gains of the liberation struggle for universal suffrage, and the constitutional right for “every Zimbabwean to stand for election for public office and, if elected, to hold such office” (Section 67(3b) – money speaks, and it guarantees that no ‘chancers’ are permitted to take part.

Well, not only is such thinking contrary to the spirit of the liberation struggle, and our country’s supreme law – but, quite frankly does not make an aorta of sense.

Surely, how does vetting the suitability of potential candidates for public office, and their abilities or lack of, on the basis of the weight of their pockets, make any logical sense?

How does having a fat bank account ensure that a prospective president or member of parliament, or ward councillor has what it takes to effectively run the affairs of state or town,  and rescue the ever-suffering over-burdened people of Zimbabwe from the economic hellhole that they have been shackled for over two decades?

Let us not base our reasoning on unproven and unscientific theories – whose veracity have never been put to the test – such as, the wealthy understand issues of governance better, and are more financially competent than those without.

There are even those who genuinely believe that people who have already made their own money are less likely to steal from public coffers!

I have heard these wild claims before, and quite honestly make me sick!

Where do we get all this thinking from?

For starters, the myriad of economic challenges we are faced with in Zimbabwe – largely, as a direct consequence of the grand plunder and pillaging of our national resources, on top of gross mismanagement and incompetence – have predominantly been at the hands of the highly learned and filthy rich.

I dare anyone to name any of the individuals regularly fingered in massive scandalous deals in this country, and show me a pathetic poor lowlife from some shantytown – or, these are well-known wealthy entities, who have been linked to power for as long we can remember.

Yet, in spite of their obvious riches – some readily flaunted on social media platforms – they still feel the seemingly irresistible urge to steal more and more millions.

As far as I am concerned, this insatiable greed for money is driven by pure lust – and, wealth is to these looters like the smell of blood is to a shark – they fall into an uncontrollable trance, and feeding frenzy, at the mere sight or thought of cash.

That is why they never appear to ever have enough – even if they steal millions of dollars each and every month, they will still desire more and more – leaving the rest of us wondering just what exactly they need all that money for.

For some of us, give us just a quarter of a million – after investing it, we will be set for life, for generations to come, and will never need to work ever again!

The pillaging we witness in Zimbabwe, especially by the ruling elite, has absolutely nothing to do with poverty – but, pure greed.

As such, restricting those who can run for public office on the grounds of their financial muscle is clearly unscientific and illogical.

Furthermore, the reason why there appears to be no particular hurry by those in power in fixing our dire economic predicament, adversely affecting millions of poverty-stricken Zimbabweans, is mainly due to the fact that they do not share in our misery and pain.

Surely, if for instance, one of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s sons were to titter on the verge of death from a debilitating cancer, as a result of the lack of functional radiotherapy machines in the country – and, he had no other country to run to for medical assistance – would we not witness unprecedented urgency and speed in addressing this matter, which has haunted our health care system, and left unattended, for decades?

In fact, is that not exactly what we saw at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – after the whole world had been placed on lockdown, and our leaders in Zimbabwe were stuck in the country, unable to travel abroad for medical care, as per norm?

Did the ruling elite, more out of fear for their own lives, not run around ensuring that the country’s health care facilities were modified and upgraded, and essentials as vaccines, ventilators, and oxygen were made readily available?

I can tell you that, had there been no global lockdown, enabling those in power to fly all-over the world for medical assistance – even face masks and sanitizers would have been in short supply in Zimbabwe.

In other words, the real reason our country is in such an economic mess – whereby, nearly half of the population (7.1 million) lives in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 a day, and about 80 percent earning far below the poverty datum line, with the real annual inflation rate believed to be over 500 percent – is on account of a leadership that cannot feel our pain and suffering.

They would rather tell us to ‘tighten our belts’, grit our teeth, and bare the hunger and impoverishment for the next ten or so years – till some so-called ‘Vision 2030’ has been realized, and we are all in an ‘upper middle income economy’!

Seriously?

If Mnangagwa did not know how he was going to afford the next meal for his family, or his children were having nightmares over schools fees for their children as the new term beckons, or their wives threatening to leave due to poverty – would he be sitting aound and waiting for ‘Vision 2030’, or talking about some dream of an ‘upper middle income economy’?

Would he – as happened during the COVID-19 global lockdown – not be running around ensuring that the country’s economy is fixed today, right now, so that even his family would be rescued from the suffering?

Yet, since those in power are well-off, are living pretty, and only read about our unimaginable struggles in the media – there is definitely no need for them to see any need for urgency in addressing our sorrowful plight.

Where would they even get the time for such endeavours, when they are busy dining in five-star hotels, drinking expensive whiskeys, and checking out the latest flashy cars?

Therefore, from where I am standing, the best person to deal with our economic issues in Zimbabwe is someone who is living and experiencing the same life as the rest of us, and enduring similar hardships on a daily basis.

As a matter of fact, that is exactly how successful revolutions around the world were premised – which were led and driven, not by academics (with all their lofty high-sounding theories and philosophies), or rich aristocrats – but, by the ordinary people on the ground themselves, who lived the poverty and suffering each and every day.

Those are the people who clearly do not have the US$20,000 or US$1,000 required to stand in elections as presidential or parliamentary candidates – as demanded by ZEC.

However, such are the individuals who fully understand and share in our daily struggles, who appreciate the need for urgency in addressing these challenges faced by millions of Zimbabweans.

Someone who has to carry heavy loads of water every day, from crowded communal boreholes miles away, fully comprehends the immediate need to resolve perennial water crises in our twins and cities.

They will never tell the nation to wait for the next ten years – whilst, those in power loot millions and millions of dollars from our local authorities (which could be used for decent service provision), or enter scandalous deals meant to divert revenue from our natural resources and mineral wealth (which should be used for the improvement of the citizenry’s standards of living).

In a nutshell, given a choice, I would rather vote for someone without a single penny in his pocket, since he is the one who shares in my suffering, understands how painful life is in Zimbabwe, and that we cannot wait a day longer for some envisioned better life in the distant future.

Based on our harrowing experiences in Zimbabwe, the biggest ‘chancers’ in our political space have been those with the cash to throw around – who run for public office solely for the purposes of pillaging and plundering our nation into oblivion, without a care in the world for the suffering masses.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com

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