via Tanonoka Joseph Whande – We do not need any more political parties | SW Radio Africa September 30, 2013
Zimbabwe has gone through more turmoil and trying times than most African countries.
Before independence, our resolve slowly increased as we faced successive, harsh colonial governments.
The fortitude shown by the people of Zimbabwe in meeting head on the might of a white minority regime that was being backed by apartheid South Africa and several western countries was an indication that the peace-loving Zimbabweans were prepared to put their lives in danger to gain their freedom.
And they did.
The battle for Zimbabwe surpasses that of most African countries in terms of numbers killed, excluding the senseless civil war that followed Angola’s independence from Portugal.
However, even before independence, Zimbabwe had a fair share of political parties and charlatans who masqueraded as saviours of the people while they were, in actual fact, being used by colonial masters to destabilise nationalist movements in the country.
It seems we never learned from those experiences which, it can be argued, delayed our independence by quite a considerable amount of time.
At independence, there were several parties that contested against ZANU-PF, PF-ZAPU and other parties.
I am more intrigued by the ideological similarities of political parties than by their differences. In the end, I am left to wonder what it all means.
We have ZANU-PF, an old party that has been in power for thirty-four years. Although it still maintains the red star on our national flag, the ruling ZANU-PF is not a socialist government. Never has been and, instead, tried to hoodwink the electorate and the world by pronouncing what it called African socialism.
Does the Marange Diamond Fields concur?
Today, ZANU-PF continues to lie about being a democratic party much as the Democratic Republic of North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo are democracies.
The party has abandoned just about all its original identity and is now better known for killing those who voice differing opinions from itself.
It is a feared party, one that survives through intimidation, violence, corruption and bribery.
At independence, we squandered an opportunity to let democracy and tolerance take root. In PF-ZAPU, we had a viable opposition, unlike the Mickey Mouse political parties that have suddenly filled all the space in Zimbabwe.
There was token acceptance and inclusion in government of PF-ZAPU but within a few months, trouble erupted and to this day, we as Zimbabwe have never recovered from that.
It is called intolerance and ZANU-PF is as guilty as sin.
Our history since independence records many political parties hardly known in a single village. We seem to have lost the belief that one vote can make a whole lot of a difference. But at the same time, we have acquired the misguided belief that all one has to do is announce the formation of a political party and the leader and his close associates are off on their money-making project.
We have become so short-sighted and greedy that instead of mending a puncture on our bicycle, we gladly throw the bike away and rather prefer to look for a new one at whatever cost.
I am astounded by the casualness employed in forming a political party in our country.
Lovemore Madhuku and his National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which is older than the MDC, have made it official that they are forming a political party out of the ashes of a barren NCA that achieved absolutely nothing in its 16 years of existence.
A proliferation of political parties is not a gauge for democracy just as much as a proliferation of radio and television stations across the country is not an indicator of free speech or democracy.
We want substance. We want quality not quantity.
“We are going to be pushing for a social democratic state and our movement will be pan-Africanist in nature … We are going to be fighting against colonialism and imperialism,” said Blessing Vava, the NCA’s Information Officer.
Oh, gosh, this is so old. Our paranoia and lack of direction make us invest in the past instead of the future.
Oh! I am so excited that a new party has been formed in today’s Zimbabwe to fight colonialism and imperialism. Damn, we are so mediocre that we keep looking back instead of clearing the way forward?
But does Zimbabwe really need any more political parties?
No, it does not.
We are better of examining the ones in existence and see how we can improve them without having to split people into smaller and smaller groups.
But we cannot do that because of greed. Whoever becomes president of a political party will never relinquish, retire or step aside for another compatriot with fresh ideas.
We cannot renew or improve our existing political parties because of all the leaders of political parties in Zimbabwe today, all of them are led by the original presidents who almost always had to tamper with their constitutions to be able to remain at the helm.
Lovemore Madhuku did that to remain at the helm of the NCA and he has now thought of promoting himself to the presidency of a still-born political party.
Do people understand the responsibilities that come with the leadership or formation of a political party? Are they aware that for a party to survive and grow, people have to pledge their support and trust in that party? Are they aware that a political party belongs to the people, to the followers not to the leaders?
The NGOs are to blame.
There is money to be made in forming opposition political parties, especially in a country like Zimbabwe where just about everyone wants to see ZANU-PF receding into the sunset. We are so eager to get rid of the monster that we give financial assistance to upstarts in the hope that they will make a contribution in the ouster of the monster. We build political tangwenas instead of a house.
This is why some of these Mickey Mouse political parties are only heard of when elections are a few weeks ahead and die before Election Day.
The heart of the matter is that Zimbabwean politicians must grow up; they must come of age. They must learn to put the nation before self-interest.
Unless that kind of culture is invited into our political forays, every little village is going to have its own political party.
It is appalling that party leaders in Africa always overburden themselves with a narcissist desire to control and own the parties they lead. I am not amused by Robert Mugabe’s behaviour of shutting out the younger minds in his party and staying at the helm for as long as he has done.
That should not be allowed and should be discouraged starting now.
I am not happy with what is going on in the MDC where a leader, again, is fighting a section of his own party about whether or not he should stay on. Mr Tsvangirai, who has nicknamed his party the MDC-T, wants to stay on despite the fact that he has served more than two terms and led his party to three consecutive defeats.
Political parties belong to the people not to individuals and the current crop of party leaders nationwide is a disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe. I urge them to please get off the stage and let new actors take the scene.
As for Madhuku, well, he certainly had time to toy around with ZANU-PF and knows when his pay day is coming. He is just preparing his wallet.
Madhuku is under no illusion. He failed to make anything out of the NCA, in fact he killed it but he says he now wants to lead a bigger organisation.
ZANU-PF is so happy about this and they will pay him accordingly.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, September 30th, 2013.