Election time in any part of the world is truly a very interesting period!
That is when the electorate is inundated with a plethora of various political organizations – with all manner of names, and some offering the weirdest of promises, should they be voted into power.
There is never a shortage of such strange parties, and one should never be shocked coming across something called, ‘The Bread Party’ (which pledges to provide every citizen a loaf of bread each and every day), or ‘Rain Democratic Party’ (that assures everyone that they possess the power to bring good rains to all farmers), or ‘The Alien Alliance Party’ (which adamantly claims to have strong relationships with aliens from outer space, who can share their much more advanced technologies and science with Earthlings’)!
Nonetheless, there is already a real political party (that has been in existence right here in Zimbabwe for the past fifty-eight years), which easily romps to a resounding victory, and take the disgraceful crown in the ‘Most Ridiculous Political Party’ race!
Surely, how else can one describe a political entity that has unashamedly destroyed a once prosperous country, to unprecedented and unmitigated shameful levels – yet, still claims can be entrusted with reviving decrepit urban areas?
Let us never forget that Zimbabwe was once regarded as ‘the jewel of Africa’, and ‘breadbasket of the region’ – yet, was callously and disturbingly turned into an embarrassing basket-case, whose population wallows in abject poverty and hunger.
This was a country which, in spite of REAL crippling economic sanctions imposed by the UN (United Nations), after the then Rhodesia regime proclaimed its UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) from Britain in 1965 – thereby, inviting the wrath of the colonial master, and its allies – yet, managed not only to commendably pull through, but impressively transformed the nation into a self-reliant economic powerhouse.
However, in the hands of the post-independence ZANU PF regime, the country was steadily stripped of all its past glory and prosperity – which had made it a highly-regarded regional and continental member – into a laughable nation of a population that has been subjected to insufferable pain, poverty, and oppression.
The country’s massive industrial base had been the envy of the world – with most companies being counted amongst the largest global manufacturers and producers, such as ZISCOSTEEL, Cold Storage Commission (CSC), Air Zimbabwe, David Whitehead, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), to name but just a few.
Needless to say, all these were rundown under the plundering, incompetent, and savage ZANU PF watch.
In fact, I googled the list of companies that collapsed under the post-independece regime, only to be thoroughly dumbfounded at just how long it was – with names that could easily be mistaken for a telephone directory.
Therefore, it comes as a huge joke – similar to ‘The Bread Party’, ‘Rain Democratic Party’, and ‘Alien Alliance Party’ – when I hear the very same political party that singlehandedly destroyed an entire country, telling voters that they should be entrusted with reviving broken down urban areas.
Let us be very clear, I have been one of those outstandingly critical over how the opposition has mismanaged our towns and cities – which used to have exquisite roads, brilliant street lights, reliable clean, safe, potable running water, and were virtually garbage-free – yet, have been reduced into nothing more than smelly, dirty, unlivable, noisy, and ramshackle shanty towns.
The only things still standing – being the only signs that these are urban areas – are the Rhodesian-built houses, although (due to neglect and poor maintenance by their occupants) have been turned into revolting eyesores.
Our opposition local government leaders can not escape liability for this mess – as I have always insisted that, no matter what the challenges one faces, a leader’s mandate is to find lasting solutions, without excuses.
As such, the lack of tap water in our urban homes, potholed roads that are hazardous to our vehicles, street lights which last worked decades ago (or, are seldom repaired or replaced in time), and rubbish strewn all over the place – are squarely to be blamed on our local authorities… irrespective of the reasons.
Any leaders who resorts to excuses and finger-pointing is not worthy of the office. Period.
However, listening to ruling ZANU PF leaders touting themselves as suitable replacements for our failing opposition local governments, is even worse than a political party that promises to bring technologies and science from outer space!
Just to jog the memories of our always bungling ruling elite – some of us have been around for quite some time, and still remember that problems in urban areas actually commenced under ZANU PF watch.
Our towns and cities were under ZANU PF administration for twenty years, since independence in 1980 – and, they had the opportunity to construct sufficient water sources (dams) in all these areas, expand reticulation systems, and upgrade treatment facilities – to cope with the obviously fast-growing population (since, the current infrastructure was designed and developed during the colonial era for small populations).
What were these ZANU PF ‘city fathers and mothers’ doing for all of twenty years – well before supposed ‘economic sanctions against Zimbabwe were imposed’?
The current challenges were there for all to predict way back in the 1990s – as it was clear that the exponential expansion of our urban population would soon over-burden the available infrastructure.
Similarly, there is the matter of legacy debts – some of which emanate from ZANU PF-run local authorities, as well as non-payment of rates and other municipal bills by national government (and, quisi-state) institutions…that owe billions of dollars.
As a matter of fact, taking into account the forty-one years of ZANU PF’s unmitigated failures – disingenuously explained away with endless lame and incredulous excuses – why should we not expect these ‘economic sanctions’ to be used as a convenient reason when they fail to improve the urban situation…in the event that we are foolish enough to give them another berth?
What urbanites need now is to learn from the South African experience, as shown during their recent local government elections – whereby, communities ditched mainstream national political parties, opting for their own homegrown community-based organizations.
We now need residents in their various communities to come up with their own representatives that they will elect into local government positions – without relying on established political parties, whose performances are hindered and hampered by their own partisan dynamics.
That is the way to go for our towns and cities.
Indeed, the opposition has undeniably failed dwellers – but, I would be damned if I were so stupid as to vote for a party that destroyed an entire country!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org