As Zimbabwe draws closer to the long-awaited and overdue 26 March 2022 by-elections – to replace members of parliament (MPs) and ward councillors, who had either passed away, or were recalled – there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in candidate selection criteria.
Indeed, I have never made a secret of my utter and justifiable distrust of political parties, as the solution to our country’s seemingly unending and suffocating economic, political, and social challenges – since, politicians, by their very nature, are never enticed into positions out of the love of the people, but are purely driven by their own power ambitions, and other trappings such as status and wealth.
I prefer citizens themselves being fully in charge of who holds what office – and, also being at the forefront, in a non-partisan manner, of holding their officials accountable.
Is there, then, any wonder why we, the citizenry, are only remembered by politicians when they need our votes (solely as a constitutional requirement for them to attain their goals) – yet, forgetting about us immediately after polls, and even seemingly turning against us, as they dismally fail to fulfill their pre-election myriad of promises?
Instead – no matter which political party they are from – preferring to spend their precious time either enriching themselves, or pushing their weight around (both figuratively and literally) without really achieving anything meaningful.
As a matter of fact, endless excuses become the shameless Hallmark of their administration – never running out of those to blame (yet, interestingly, never these being themselves) for their own appalling performance.
Why should we be shocked?
No honest politician can ever look you in the eyes, and sincerely tell you that they ran for a particular office of power out of pure love for you, and an uncompromising determination to improve your livelihood.
If only politicians could be submitted to polygraph (or, lie detector) tests – then, maybe, just maybe, our gullible people would finally understand what I have been trying to say all along…as if in the wilderness.
Anyway, since we appear stubbornly stuck to our unfortunate and misguided belief that politicians, and their respective political parties, are the panacea to the painful and unrelenting suffering we have been subjected to over the past decades – ironically, at the hands of politicians, and their political parties – the best I can now ask for, is the choosing of elections candidates on merit, rather than on their loyalty to the party and leader.
We have already experienced how deciding who to represent a political party purely on their hero-worshipping and praise-singing skills, has resulted in practically useless office-bearers, who can not even figure out whether they are coming in, or going out.
That is where the usually ridiculous and disgraceful perennial excuses emanate – since, even if they do try to diligently serve their constituents, they have absolutely no idea how to successfully accomplish such an objective.
Surely, imagine me walking up to the medical superintendent of Kwekwe General Hospital, for instance, seeking to be appointed a medical doctor – a position I am not qualified for, and have no clue how to even accurately distinguish between a common cold and influenza – and, I am, nonetheless, awarded this job on the basis of flattering her with all manner of meaningless and insincere praises, glorifying, as well as promising to stand with her, and quashing all her enemies.
What is to happen in that hospital?
Are innocent patients not to die at my hands?
What then, is the difference with how political parties have been choosing whom to represent them at the polls?
As we enter the primary election season, what criteria is being employed to vet prospective candidates?
Are these based on the deliverables expected of these prospective MPs and ward councillors – or, simply how devoted and faithful they have been to party and leader?
Are we to expect our MPs to, at least, understand the basic workings of the law, and how such are made?
Do they actually comprehend what laws this country desperately needs for genuine economic, political, and social advancements – which are crafted to benefit the people, and not their leaders and parties?
What do they know about the operations of various government ministries (the Executive), so that can effectively and efficiently play their oversight role, and hold them to account?
On the local government front – are we to see ballot papers with individuals who posses a deep understanding of how councils operate, and are innovative enough to bring with them effective and workable solutions to challenges that have been known for ages (such as water provision, refuse collection, fixing faulty street lighting, and non-payment of bills by residents)?
Have they the requisite knowledge on holding council management answerable to residents?
Or, are we to expect the continuation of the same nonsense and nuisance we have been witnessing since this country attained independence in 1980 – with their equally irritating and disingenuous excuses after excuses?
Zimbabwe now urgently requires duty-beares who are elected and appointed on the basis of meritocracy – who have a grasp of what is expected of them, and how to achieve these deliverables.
Enough of empty-headed sycophants!
I am sure political party leaders can find other ways of rewarding their hero-worshippers and praise-singers – possibly, as their official car-washers or tea-makers – but, definitely no where near the corridors of power!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com