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People should be given a chance to choose

There is only one solution that will see Zimbabwe to possible socio-economic recovery — a free and transparent election.

sundayopinion BY ZANDA SHUMBA

The candidates should be freely elected by party members during primaries, with the state media covering and broadcasting processes and outcomes of diverse parties’ candidate selection processes, thereby providing voters an opportunity to make informed decisions. This will go a long way in weeding out imposition of candidates by political parties, a practice prevalent in Zanu PF. If candidates are imposed, it deprives voters the right to make a choice. Imposing candidates weakens parties and is against the idea of democracy.

Zimbabwe must aim for an ideal system of governance. Take Japan, for example. It has realised near idealistic ambitions and has a highly organised, well-regulated and a robust economy made possible only through polished administrative procedures monitored through checks and balances. Japan is highly successful and is the largest holder of foreign currency reserves in the world. The population of Japan is close to 146 million, and is roughly the same size as Zimbabwe which has about 10% the population of Japan. Checks and balances are largely stifled in Zimbabwe where those in positions of influence stand accused of gross corrupt activities.

The major determining factor in achieving free and transparent elections and accountability can be measured by the freedom state media is allowed in reporting on anything, complemented by independent media efforts. Only desperate and underperforming regimes want to own media and control it as an avenue to propagate lies, hide and vindicate own failures and incompetences and to use the media as an instrument of terror and repression of the masses. So the first step towards freedom and subsequently fair election is doing away with information restriction and control by government.

The constitution of Zimbabwe provides for plural, privately-owned radio and television stations. But since the constitution came into force in 2013, many applications by private parties to set up broadcasting stations have been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to limit access to information.

The grand coalition is also failing to take off because of selfishness at the expense of choosing a leader to serve the people. Those in MDC-T naturally prefer Morgan Tsvangirai to lead, whereas those in Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) want Joice Mujuru. The wishes of the electoral base are sidelined by leadership, yet they have much to contribute. While the National Electoral Reform Agenda is trying to level the electoral space, party leaders must find each other. The opposition parties should also lead by example by holding fair and transparent primary elections so as to show how things are done. It will also go a long way in establishing democracy in Zimbabwe. But sometimes we have witnessed the opposition borrowing ideas from Zanu PF, leaving us to guess on the sincerity of opposition in wanting to bring true change in Zimbabwe.

In ZimPF, some are not sure of the process that saw Mujuru become the leader of the party. If leaders are merely imposed, they serve those who would have appointed them and if they are voted for by the masses, then they will serve the masses. Zanu PF imposed candidates generally serve the interests of President Robert Mugabe while disregarding the plight of the people. Since 1980, only a few parliamentarians and ministers ever opposed Mugabe, and of those who did, they were labelled enemies of the state.

So this imposition of candidates is a major weakness both in opposition and in Zanu PF.

MDC has fragmented into several parties because of lack of fairness in leadership selection. Sincere political parties fight for the freedom and welfare of their people more than they fight for positions, power and self-aggrandisement.

Corruption will never end in Zanu PF since perpetrators are protected by Mugabe himself. Perpetrators are only exposed once they fall out of favour with Mugabe. The president rewards his cronies through leaving them to do as they please on condition that they keep supporting and praising him.

The nation will not forget the $15 billion diamond money that disappeared into thin air. With the military openly saying it will not support anyone without liberation war credentials for president, we definitely have a military government in Zimbabwe where soldiers choose who they want to back to be the next executive, thereby destroying all the fundamentals of democracy. In 2008 Mugabe refused to transfer power after losing to MDC; he leveraged on the military. So let us be wary of the army.

Zimbabweans have lost all hope in the present government as the situation keeps getting worse and many people are becoming poorer, while service delivery is non-existent. People are dying at public hospitals due to lack of basic drugs and the state media sweeps this under the carpet. Rather than work overtime to turn around the state of affairs, those in the ruling Zanu pf are busy with succession battles and corruption has gone totally out of control and remains unchecked. Corrupt Zanu pf members are not being prosecuted and this only encourages more corruption. Zimbabweans must not count on Zanu pf to bring change in Zimbabwe. It is surprising that opposition has yielded to the unjust ban on peaceful protests. Unfettered peaceful protests are constitutional and are the hallmark of a sound democracy.

Zimbabweans should, therefore, protest to demand the resignation of the president and the overhaul of government. Everyone in Zimbabwe is being hurt or disadvantaged significantly in some way through Zanu pf rule.

Even if all hospitals and schools close, even if all civil servants don’t get paid, even if all Zimbabweans get unemployed and people die of hunger and disease, Zanu pf will not give up power, but will rather choose to pull out of the International Court of Justice, just to continue with the outrageous injustice, corruption and plunder of resources, free from rebuke. The level of corruption shows that the ruling party Zanu pf is unmoved by the suffering of the people. Zanu pf will never serve the interest of the common man.

The people of Zimbabwe should push for a transparent and functional process that governs how people are elected and put mechanisms in place to curtail abuse of power. Zimbabwe needs firm institutions.

Zimbabweans must be allowed to protest, to demand freedom, extricate themselves from limitations imposed by Zanu PF. Zimbabweans have the power to alter the status quo so as to usher in an era where they cannot only freely choose the next leader, but also be able to control him/her. But if they choose to cower and continue to scavenge for a livelihood, they will continue to suffer, while Zanu PF remains unmoved.

Let us revive the spirit of the fearless Itai Dzamara. It is our right to petition and protest, we are not foreigners, but we are in the land of our birthright, and it is not anyone else’s but our responsibility to use the right and lawful means to fight against irrationality and imbalance. These protests are long overdue. We hope the opposition will organise more marches to put pressure and convey the message to Mugabe and his corrupt syndicate and system. They must give power back to the people where it rightfully belongs; the power to elect leaders and regulate them. We also hope that the police will not take illegal orders from their superiors to just beat up peaceful protestors indiscriminately.

Feedback: zekishumba@gmail.com

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