Having spent a well-needed and enjoyable weekend with family in my mother’s rural home of Rusape – it was possible I had missed some crucial breaking news stories, especially pertaining the form of government we had in Zimbabwe.
Had there been some major changes from the parliamentary democracy that we had known since independence from colonial rule in 1980 – to a chiefdom of one form or another?
On my return to my Redcliff home, I immediately immersed myself into catching up with all the latest developments – just in case I had missed the big news.
However, to my great and utter relief – we are still very much a parliamentary democracy.
What had inspired such confusing thoughts and questions in my mind?
Well, what else was I supposed to think, when we have a whole vice president of a nation (Constantino Chiwenga), boldly but disingenuously declaring that our president, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, was in fact, the Paramount Chief of Zimbabwe – thus, could never be criticized or rebuked – at least, as long as he (Chiwenga) was around!
He said this while addressing the country’s traditional leaders who had gathered in the capital Harare for their annual Chief’s Conference – in response to the fearless and open warning issued to Mnangagwa, by Chief Murinye, of the possible dire consequences of continued corrupt tendencies by his regime.
Bold statement by Chiwenga, indeed – but, disturbingly misleading, unacceptable, and quite worrisome for a country that portrays itself as a parliamentary democracy.
The question then becomes – why in the world would someone in leadership issue such brazen threats against those that practice what should normally be an acceptable, integral, and essential part of democracy?
Since when has criticizing the president become a crime?
Even the ridiculous law frequently cited by law enforcement agents in arresting those who would have been deemed to have “insulted and denigrated” the president, was long ago declared unconstitutional, and struck off the statute books.
Why does Zimbabwe continue to claim to be a democracy, when quite plainly, the leaders themselves are never shy in publicly painting a terrifying image of a draconian primitive medieval kingdom – ruled over by some power-drunk overbearing intolerant tyrants, immersed in some delusions of grandeur?
I remember penning an article on 1 October 2017 – entitled, “Leaders who want to rule forever should have been traditional leaders” – admonishing then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe from his insatiable thirst for power and apparent desire to act as if he were some Paramount Chief, entitled to a lifetime of power.
Needless to say, he did not last another one and half months in office!
Yet, today, we still find the same – as absolutely nothing has changed under the military coup-created “new dispensation” – whereby, we continue to witness a politically schizophrenic regime, uncertain over who they really are.
Let me do them a huge favor by reminding them.
In a true democracy, any elected leader – yes, including the president – is subject to the people of that country, and is answerable to them, since his or her authority to govern is derived from the citizenry.
Even our own country’s Constitution unambiguously states this fact in its “Founding values and principles” [Section 3(2)f].
This is in stark contrast to a Chiefdom, or Principality (led by a Prince or Princess), or Kingdom, or even a fascist/Nazi state ruled over by some deranged Fuhrer.
Our government in Zimbabwe needs to get its act together, by acknowledging that they are actually subservient to the people – who placed them in those offices of authority, and pay their salaries through taxes.
The terms “servant leadership” and “listening president” should never be some high-sounding nothingness – as if serving and listening to the people were some type of favor by a kind and loving president…but rather, is a constitutional obligation in any true democracy.
In other words, Mnangagwa is not – by any stretch of the imagination – an untouchable Paramount Chief, who can not be criticized, and rules with impunity.
He is accountable to us – the people – and is our subject.
As already highlighted, there are various forms of governments – each with its own peculiar system of governance – but, Zimbabweans willingly chose to be a parliamentary democracy, which should be bound by all democratic tenets and principles, without compromise.
If we truly want to do away to what may be perceived as Western forms of governance – then, we actually have no need for Mnangagwa (and his crew) since even his position is of Western origins…and, we can revert to being ruled over by our traditional leaders, chosen through our own customary processes.
As a matter of fact, during my weekend visit to my mother’s rural home, I had the humbling privilege of meeting the chief – whom, I even knelt before, as a sign of my endearing respect and honour of his esteemed office.
This, I would never do before a president of a democracy – as this office is of subservience to the people, as opposed to that of traditional leaders.
These assertions are in no way targeted personally against Mnangagwa – no, not at all – but, apply to any president of a country that calls itself a democracy…be it, the United States’ Joe Biden, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, or Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema.
Indeed, I respect every person on this planet – my superior or subordinate, elder or junior, and that includes the president of our nation – but, there is a world of different between respecting and revering someone.
For as long as we are still a republic, governed by a parliamentary democracy – with a president, and other arms of government (executive, judiciary, and legislature) – Mnangagwa can be freely criticized by whomsoever wishes, as that is what democracy entails.
@ Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com