‘Polls won’t bring change’

via ‘Polls won’t bring change’ – DailyNews Live 13 January 2015 by Conrad Nyamutata

LONDON – For nearly 35 years, we have lived under self-delusion.

That delusion is that, we, the totality of Zimbabweans “own” this country.

We hear about sovereignty that must be guarded jealously.

Ordinarily, yes, that is what popular sovereignty presupposes — that all of us have ownership of a country.

But, in our case, this has been a delusion.

This delusion has been sustained in a number of ways, including, multi-partyism, the holding of periodic “democratic” elections and implementation of a supposedly fair redistributive project.

A lot of analyses have gone into our post-colonial experience.

The critiques have, rightly, unpacked the social, economic and political problems against promises of a venerated “liberation” struggle.

But these are secondary issues. When deconstructed, the root of Zimbabwe’s problems is the “ownership” question.

For lack of an immediate authoritative source, the Wikipedia definition of “delusion” as “a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary” will suffice.

I say we have lived under self-delusion because superior evidence has shown that Zimbabwe has never been and is not owned by all of us.

The rhetoric may sound all-embracing but the reality is that Zanu PF owns this country, or has effectively claimed so.

We all know the source of this “ownership” claim; they fought and “liberated” the country, et cetera.

At the core of Zimbabwe’s problems is this ownership question. Since independence, we have allowed a political party — not all Zimbabweans — to claim exclusive ownership of the country.

To be sure, the “ownership” problem is almost intractable. The liberation struggle is a historical fact. And challenging those that claim participation in it to change their ways has been problematic.

But resolving Zimbabwe’s problems involves changing mind-sets on the “ownership” question.

Unless this “ownership” conundrum is resolved, Zimbabwe will remain stuck.

The “ownership” question is the biggest problem because nothing stands in its way — not protests, not democracy, not human rights, not elections. Zanu PF would rather face sanctions and let people suffer than relinquish “ownership of its country.”

With this mentality, elections are only deceptive rituals. The 2008 poll was a huge mistake on the part of Zanu PF after it acquiesced to external pressure resulting in a modicum of “free” elections.

As a consequence, it nearly ceded “ownership of its country” unwittingly. To quote Grace Mugabe then: “Nyika yakanga yatoenda” (The country was nearly gone) in reference to her husband’s defeat by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai by what has always been believed to be a higher margin than official results announced five weeks later.

The coalition government followed. As the subsequent elections showed, anything near a free and fair election is a gamble Zanu PF will never repeat.

Yet, as self-deluded as we are, we still speak with enthusiastic anticipation about the 2018 elections.

The evidence simply shows that, with Zanu PF’s current mind-set, elections will not bring any change in this country.

The fact that, with Zanu PF’s current thinking, we still hold belief in the electoral process as the modus for change of government is enough evidence of the strength of our delusions.

A sober prognosis would point to the occurrence of either of two things for elections to bring change. And, regrettably, neither is probable anytime soon.

The first is for Zanu PF to accept that it does not own this country as it should. It is only by broadening ownership of the country that other political players can genuinely be considered to have a stake.

However, this is unlikely considering the benefits that the “ownership” claim has brought to the claimants.

The second, as Leicester University lecturer James Hamill also stated last week, is that change may result only with the collapse of Zanu PF.

This explains the glee with which Zanu PF’s internecine tussles of recent months were perceived in some quarters.

With its collapse, so will the “ownership” claim. But the prospect of Zanu PF’s demise is distant too.

This country is in a fix.


  • comment-avatar

    “This explains the glee with which Zanu PF’s internecine tussles of recent months were perceived in some quarters.” I think if there is any GLEE in any quarters it is not amongst Zimbabweans. Maybe other countries who might benefit. The collapse of Zanu would be welcome as they have totally taken us backwards and continue to. Glee I don’t think so. Relief maybe. (defined a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.) We are weary but we realize that breaking or destroying is easier than building. Zimbabweans know that to get the country back to having a decent economy that provides for jobs and basic services is a mammoth task. They also know that get the Justice system and the Police force working at an acceptable level is an even bigger task. All the working organs of Law and Order have been totally replaced by corrupt leaders who have employed corrupt subordinates.The Structures Zanu created have to be torn down systematically.Even if Zanu got a change of leadership that had good intentions they would never survive because there would still be the back round of corrupt people who have too much skeletons in their cupboards to be exposed if Zanu were suddenly honest.

    ” With its collapse, so will the “ownership” claim. But the prospect of Zanu PF’s demise is distant too.”

    That’s what they thought in Libya.It might happen sooner than you think. Oku ngapheliyo kuya xhlola.

    • comment-avatar

      ‘Glee’ is an expression of pleasure at something,so he is right in what he is saying

    • comment-avatar

      Glee means pleasure at someone’s misfortune; so it makes sense

  • comment-avatar
    Chioniso D 7 years ago

    Well put Conrad. We really have to destroy Zpf structures one way or another. Fueling the current squables is the panacia. Even to the extent of sponsering some infiltrations. Elections will never work while Zpf still in power with the securocrats on its side. The true Zimbos must take advantage of the current circus in zpf and help destroy it once and for all.

  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 7 years ago

    The best constitution in the world, in the hands of savages,is not worth a dime Mnangagwa should be relieved of his ministerial post ASAP!