Source: July 30 presidential contestants, ‘self-actualisation’ | The Herald June 19, 2018
Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
In entry level management school, there is a basic concept known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This concept classifies the different levels of human needs, transitioning from those of a physical nature to intrinsic ambitions.
At the upper top of the hierarchy of needs by Maslow there are two layers, namely esteem needs and self-actualisation needs.
These two classes of needs are pursued by those who have enjoyed considerable successes in their conventional careers and are seeking to satisfy long-held personal ambitions.
Esteem and self-actualisation needs may not have any financial benefit to the individuals, but serve as legacy or aggrandisement avocations.
Some write books, others travel to different places of the world or mentor young people in their respective fields among many other engagements.
Lately, it seems Zimbabweans have taken self-actualisation to a new level, using electoral participation as a way of satisfying their intrinsic needs.
Zimbabwe saw the number of presidential aspirants reach a record 23.
Undoubtedly, this signalled the opening up of the country`s democratic space which was previously constricted.
Like any other areas of influx, a wide door allows in chancers and those pursuing odd goals, like self-actualisation at the expense of public representation.
Virtually unknown people are testing the elasticity of ambition in running for presidency even when they know that they have very thin chances of getting even a dozen of votes.
Some know that they do not have the range to gather significant numbers but still go on to throw their names in the hat.
The electorate should be able to discern between people who are attempting to stroke their egos by seeing their faces on the ballot paper and those who intend to provide solutions to their challenges.
One way of separating wheat from chaff is through assessing approaches being employed by the candidates.
Controversial musician Bryn Mteki, after filing his papers, told journalists that he intends to go home to “chill” until the poll date.
Unless a miraculous tale awaits the country, this is one sure way of losing an election at any level.
Which raises the question why he would invest $1 000 towards a futile end.
A set of curious campaign strategies have been used by Nkosana Moyo of the Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA) who has been subject of humour on the Internet.
He has been engaging with people on a personal basis, arguing that he would rather articulate his vision with depth to those generous enough to grant him a close audience than hold a rally.
Moyo`s unorthodox approach is anchored on the hope that those who understand his submissions take it to the next person and his campaign spreads through word of mouth.
For a person with an impressive personal resume, it shows how Moyo is either being deliberately naïve or is running the race for other reasons besides winning.
His running could simply be for posterity reasons, that one day he will gather his grandchildren around his dinner table unpacking how the country failed to connect with his “avante-garde” ideas.
The many independent candidates who have emerged are also part of the self-actualising contingent.
Many believe they have the clout to lead communities, but see themselves as special beings who do not engage political parties. It remains to be seen how they will fare in a country where people are considered to vote along party lines.
There is already a fall back plan for independent candidates who are slowly coming to terms with prospects of defeat.
“Even if we lose, we will not despair. We will take the lessons from the experience,” reads the catchphrase which has been thrown around by independent hopefuls when confronted with how they will deal with defeat which looks imminent for many of them.
Some are fancying their chances, hoping that they can add the prefix “Honourable” to their names, which is another element of self-actualisation.
Council campaigns have been the most hilarious with the bulk of councillors making promises that lie outside the jurisdiction of the office they seek to enter.
Which betrays an attempt based on mere trial without strategy.
Outgoing Harare Mayor Ben Manyenyeni also expressed concern over the seriousness of those who seek to run for council office.
“From the 46 Harare City Council wards, the Nomination Court was at Town House, which looked like we had advertised for casual job vacancies. Unconfirmed reports are that over 350 hopefuls think they are ready to run the billion dollar tragedy called Harare City Council (sic),” read a recent Facebook post from Manyenyeni equating the obtaining situation to a curse.
Of the hundreds who are vying for council seats is a number of people who are trying to revive their waning fortunes through political participation.
The parliamentary race also has the same characters who envision a higher social status upon their entry into the august house. The same cannot be said of the presidential race, which leaves little room for surprises.
The frontrunners are well known, even by the contending candidates; others are just part of the congested bridal party.
July 30 2018 will be a beautiful day for democracy, where anyone who met the prerequisites was allowed to contest.
It will also be a test of the electorate for its ability to discern between those running for office to massage their egos and those with their needs at heart.