The opposition seeks votes, the ruling party seeks the economy

Source: The opposition seeks votes, the ruling party seeks the economy – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 30, 2018

IN a normal situation, elections are won on the basis of who has the best ideas to improve the economy, the welfare of the majority and the interest of the country. Voters are supposed to make their choices after freely and fairly weighing the ideas on the political campaign market.

By Tapiwa Gomo

Voters match their aspirations alongside the ideas being “sold” by the different political aspirants in line what is possible in a given environment. They make a choice between a dream bullet train and a job to feed the family. This is why some ideas have become laughable to the extent that autocracy is
fast-becoming a realistic choice.

At this age of our time, our electorate our now more educated and aware and can now differentiate between what is realistic and what is a pie in the sky. Nonetheless, the economy and its attendant benefits tend to dominate election campaigns.

Unlike in the past elections, we seem to be in a different season of politics. There is a major shift in the way politicians are conducting their business of luring the crowds to vote for them.

The opposition parties have pursued the traditional approach and have been on the road crisscrossing the country unhindered, seeking to lure the electorate. It used to be rare that they could go wherever they want and address big or small crowds with so much pomp and fanfare.

On the surface, it now seems easy to conclude that, if the opposition fail to garner enough votes to win the next elections, they have no one, but themselves to blame. They are spending more resources fighting each other instead of investing their resources on removing the ruling party from power.

They have all the space to sell their ideas. In the past, by now we would be seeing the ruling party unleashing terror with the opposition finding it difficult to manoeuvre and campaign. May be I have spoken too soon. Let’s wait and see what is in store in the next two months.

While the opposition has been on the road domestically, the ruling party has been on the hunt across the oceans, seeking to lure foreign investors to come and help revive the economy.

They have sought to bring back Zimbabwe into the global arena, after realizing that the world can do without Zimbabwe and but Zimbabwe cannot do without the world.
They have done so unperturbed by the campaign trails of the opposition parties and massive crowds around them. While the opposition parties are telling the people that the bread needs to be buttered, the ruling has been making efforts to bring back the butter.

Perhaps, the ruling party are aware that they carry the burden of a dark history – the pains they have caused to the people and their role in the destruction of the economy.

The Gukurahundi remains an unhealed wound and unforgiveable and unforgettable dark past of our history.

Election rigging, whether real or imagined, robbed many people of their hopes.

They are the faces of everything that went wrong in our country. But these are the men and women who are in power today and the same people seeking to be in power after elections.

May be they are also aware that the opposition will use this dark past to try and destroy them in the last lap of election campaign.

The ruling party knows that one of the main causes of our current circumstance is that Zimbabwe has lost the ability to generate and reproduce stability because of its inconclusive politics. The ruptures in the course of our protracted politics have all coincided and fundamentally altered the environment.

This is now an important season because if any intervention to change the present circumstances is sought, then it needs to resolve the basic cause – but the system itself has a chance to transform itself without being replaced.

What then can or has the system done to embrace this realisation? They are aware that approaching the electorate empty-handed with promises pasted on their manifestos will not get them votes.

They know that they face a deficit of trust. With that in mind, they have adopted a new approach to politics – politics of delivery and not promises.

They already have a big one in their bag. They removed former President Robert Mugabe and created an environment for change.

They will tell the people that they have mended their relations with western countries and that Zimbabwe will be rejoining the Commonwealth very soon.

And that will open up business and education opportunities for our citizens.

They will tell people that they have already signed billion-dollar projects with Chinese investors.

Once elections are over, work on these projects will commence, thus creating millions of jobs and business opportunities and boost the economy.

For voters of an impoverished nation such as Zimbabwe, this is much more attractive to the voters than promising them bullet trains and rural airports.

Re-admission into the Commonwealth and attracting investors will be used as a sign of returning stability necessary to rebuild the economy.

Once that narrative is propped, any opposition voice will be seen by the electorate as undermining genuine efforts to bring stability that is needed to grow the economy and create jobs.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa