via Is there hope in political parties? – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 29, 2014 by Rashweat Mukundu
The continuing comic drama in the MDC-T appears not to be receding anytime soon and almost every day we wake up to a new episode.
A colleague wrote on his Facebook page that the MDC-T has now suspended party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and I presume a time for a name change.
For ordinary citizens, the MDC-T appears so determined to dig its own grave that no one seems to really care now except the cheerleaders across the divide who continue singing and marching while castigating the other faction.
That is the all-in-all of politics in the opposition party.
The now indifferent citizens know for sure that politics and its organisation is about fighting for political power and influence and ideally fighting for the good of society.
The MDC-T has, however, torn itself apart by internal squabbles that in all likelihood will result in a second split and possibly the end of the MDC-T as a political force.
On the other side, you have Zanu PF which continues to gloat over its July 31 victory, taking every opportunity to remind anyone who cares to listen that it is the people’s party.
Yet all indications and evidence point to the fact that this is party that tramples on its opponents at will all in the name of keeping power.
Using its liberation credentials, Zanu PF claims entitlement to rule forever and in this is prepared to ride roughshod over citizens in pursuit of that aim.
34 years after independence it is Zanu PF and the MDC-T parties that have consolidated themselves as serious political parties.
Others have fallen by the wayside. For the love of the two parties, as many have been killed and beaten up, and property destroyed.
Zimbabweans have placed so much faith in the two political parties to rescue the nation from the burdens of poverty that one can smell in downtown Harare and many cities and poor suburbs.
The question that has to be asked now, is whether the citizen has placed too much faith and done the proverbial putting all eggs in one basket by trusting political parties to grow Zimbabwe.
While politicians, because of their control of the arms of the State, ultimately have all the power and influence on developmental issues, Zimbabwean citizens must explore other ways of achieving development and social change outside the two main political parties.
It is difficult and almost impossible to fathom how citizens can act on their own as agents of change, but this has to start somewhere and somehow.
Over the weekend a colleague witnessed members of the Seventh Day Adventists Church evangelising in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa suburb, not by preaching, but by cleaning the suburb of all sorts of trash strewn around.
These were joined by enthusiastic local residents who saw the need to live in a clean environment.
And who also realise that their expectations of the city council sending garbage trucks will likely last forever while they will literally live in a dumpster.
As many citizens, including the despised volunteer pothole-fixing men and women, face threats from the council, yet in my neighbourhood they have done a good job of fixing potholes and while not perfect at least cars are not driving into metre-deep holes.
The need for citizens to start doing things on their own, be it organising garbage collection and disposal, buying books and furniture for their schools, maintaining roads, organising joint solar energy and water projects, schemes to feed orphans and the vulnerable, may appear far-fetched, but it is such actions which will remind us of what citizenship is about, that is roles and responsibilities, and ultimately society will awaken to the fact that in the MDC-T and in Zanu PF we have the worst of political leaders and none is better.
It is by doing and knowing what goes on in having a clean environment that we will hold the council and the government to account.
As of now, Zimbabweans have placed so much faith in political leaders to rescue them, to lead to prosperity, to build schools, to collect garbage, build hospitals. While these expectations are legitimate, the political set-up is such that our political leaders have no capacity or will to serve the people.
And the expecting masses have neither capacity nor leverage to hold the leadership to account. In essence, we have an elite political class, be it in the ruling or opposition parties, that fights for itself and throws trinkets and crumbs at the masses to silence them. For this reason, the fights in the mainstream political parties are not so much about politics that uplift citizens, but ambitions to be at the top and to feed.
If Tsvangirai had won the July 31 elections, we can be sure that those “ousting” him now would be licking his shoes and singing praise songs about how great he is. Not so much because they believe in him, but because the time to “eat” would have arrived.
Those in Zanu PF, at each other’s throats to succeed President Robert Mugabe, are not talking of their policies, but slobbering at the prospect of “eating” all the Marange diamonds and anything else along the way.
So while many people expect goodies and leadership from political parties, indications are that nothing serious will come from the politicians. Instead, citizens must learn the pain of leadership in their small way and that will result in us making demands for an accountable leadership.
If we are the ones to throw rubbish out of the buses or vehicles, fail to fix a pothole in our own street, take care of each other when we have means, then the politician will simply treat us as we treat ourselves. And that is the case now.
No hope in both Zanu PF and MDC-T, but so much hope in doing things on our own and out of that a responsible — not pampered and corrupt — political leadership will emerge.