via The complexities of converging – The Zimbabwean 17.9.2015
Can or should those who have created and continue to defend the circumstances we wish to change be part of finding the solution to our problems?
I fully agree with Immanuel Kant the German philosopher that “out of the crooked timber of humanity, nothing straight was ever made”. As we grapple with the issue of convergence, I think we would be naïve to think that this will be straigh forward process that would result in all of us uniting to fight tyranny. Yet it is very necessary.
Political parties are a critical component of any convergence, but we must remember that they are essentially interest groups who are primarily interested in power. I think we would be lying to ourselves to believe that the interests of all political parties are aligned or that they are a broad church of common interests.
Essentially, people join political parties in order to create future opportunities for themselves and others within an agreed framework of relationships. Political parties are therefore platforms for personal political interests and ambition of those that form them.
There is inherently nothing repugnant or evil about personal political ambition. In fact it is only ambition that spurs us on as human beings to achieve our aspiration and dreams. The question will always be how we go about achieving those ambitions and at what cost to the common good.
As we seek to see all our political parties come together, there would have to be a trade-off between the vested personal political interests of their leaders and the need to achieve the common good – that is democracy for all Zimbabweans. Therein lies the difficulty.
I have looked at many political manifestos and they all want to achieve the same things. The challenge is how to do these things as opposed to what needs to be done. In other words, positions and power to make decisions and control resources become the primary concern of the ambitious. That is typical in any group of people who come together.
What is convergence and how would it work and what would it achieve? I think it is only when we have clearly achieved consensus on the answers to these that we can then begin to make progress. I want to try and answer these questions, but this is only my opinion and I would welcome my patient readers to assist me in gaining clarity on what I think are important national questions.
Firstly, to converge means to unite or come together. This must mean that there is a common objective that is better achievable by coming together. Our common objective is to create a democratic state in Zimbabwe underpinned by the respect for human rights and personal freedoms, the reason being obviously that Zanu (PF) has failed to satisfy our aspirations as a society.
For many years we have tried to achieve this through elections – and failed. The method we have been using has not worked. I think we agree on that. The second objective of this convergence must surely be to come together and share our collective efforts and ideas on how best we can achieve our objectives taking into account the context in which we are operating, the past failures and the common challenges we all face – regardless of which political party we may belong to.
We must of course look at the electoral process and how best it can reflect our choices in the future – because it has failed to do so in the past. We must all apply our minds on how we can have elections that are free, fair and transparent. We must also consider if that is the only method available to us or are there alternatives and if so, what exactly are they and what do they entail?
Thirdly, I think we should seriously consider the issue around coalition politics in the future. This means co-operative and constructive politics together. Does it make sense for us to have 42 political parties wanting the same things or one broad movement that is more cost effective and more efficient in delivering democracy? If the latter is better, how do we arrive at a formula that takes into account everyone’s interests and ambitions? Is it possible at all?
In my opinion, the results of convergence discussions must leave all of us with a clear road map to democracy and what we can and must do together to get there as soon as possible. We should not spend a minute complaining about or analysing the current reality or the challenges we face, we all know what those are. We should rather spend time on tangible and viable solutions that are realisable today to expedite those circumstances that we wish to create in Zimbabwe.
The important question to which I have no immediate answer is; can or should those that have created and continue to defend the circumstances which we wish to change be part of finding the solution to our problems? To be more specific can we expect Zanu(PF) to be part of the solution?
Let us talk! – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at email@example.com