via We must create our own new narrative 3 December 2014 by Vince Musewe
It is now fashionable in our political discourse to say that Zimbabwe needs a new narrative, but we must not expect someone else out there to create it for us.
The political, social and economic narrative of Zanu (PF) is no longer relevant for us. This narrative has been based on the armed struggle, sanctions, land grabs, indigenisation and includes the exclusive social and economic domination by the party. We must reject that.
I was not surprised the other day when a horde of Zanu (PF) MPs jumped up and disrupted my talk on how critical property rights are to wealth creation when I suggested that Mugabe should retire and give us young Zimbabweans the opportunity to lead. This confirmed to me my greatest fear that I have overestimated the masses and it appears that the ordinary Zanu (PF) MP or Senator is really not primed for a critical inquiry and understanding of why things are the way they are now. Their blind loyalty to Mugabe remains our greatest challenge in transforming Zimbabwe.
In addition to this, I think that we would be disingenuous to expect political parties to shape a new narrative for us because their primary interest will always be to get into or stay in power at all costs. We know this because worldwide, once political parties attain power, they seem to lose the urgency to keep their promises and become arrogant, inaccessible and oblivious to the real issues.
I therefore remain insistent that political parties may be a necessary evil but they will not create the Zimbabwe we want if left to their own devices. We, the citizens, must each take the responsibility of shaping our own new narrative and liberate politicians from the onerous expectation of emancipating us. None but ourselves can free our minds, as Bob Marley enticed us. We must liberate our politics because politics will not liberate us.
The experience of abuse of our citizens by political parties to achieve own ends is nothing new. This has happened to our destitute youth and the uninformed masses, which are abused by our politicians’ year in and year out because they are vulnerable. The poor support politicians in expectation of a better life that is never coming while the youth are continually abused to fight political battles on behalf of the chefs. This must stop.
We must drive a new narrative for Zimbabwe where our youth are treated as assets and are encouraged take the lead on putting Zimbabwe first and creating the future they want to see. We must educate the masses of the power they possess to change their circumstances and not to rely on empty political rhetoric.
I think that this new narrative must first be based on the principle that Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it regardless of race, gender, struggle history or any discriminatory practice that excludes others.
Our challenge is to create inclusive political and economic institutions so that no Zimbabwean is left behind for any reason other than their own choice. We must therefore tell a new story that acknowledges the past but does not project the past into the future as Zanu (PF) continues to do.
The second principle of our new narrative must be with regards to accountability of leadership. Throughout the years we have accepted paying taxes but not claiming a return from public servants. We pay rates but do not receive any service. That must stop.
The public sector, government officials and those elected by citizens must remain accountable for their actions. This they will not do voluntarily until we the citizens put the pressure for accountability at all levels. The idea that government is doing us a favour by providing basic services must be rejected.
Our economic narrative must be based on the acknowledgement that we have all we need to succeed as a country and we need to see less government in business. Government’s responsibility is only to create an environment which encourages a growing business sector and all our laws and policies should facilitate growth and not limit growth.
Fourthly, we need to put human capital development as our number one priority. This means our education system, our skills development policies, access to health, access to affordable decent housing and the right to clean water in a clean environment are non-negotiable. This also means the vulnerable amongst us must be looked after.
In order to achieve this, it requires a strong local government that is accountable to communities. We can only do this by electing competent people at local government level. We therefore must change the criteria for the appointment of our councillors and members of parliament because elections are not producing the talented people we need to run our affairs at local level. We must encourage independent candidates who have the requisite experience and passion to develop our communities.
I truly believe that as citizens, if we make these our priorities, we will be able to create the Zimbabwe we want – despite the politicians. The responsibility to achieve that is ours through community development forums and community-based leadership groups involving young people.
It is time to stand up and be counted.
– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org