2012: Year of ‘Politicized deception?’

Predicting future events is usually the preserve of spirit mediums, prophets and scientists. Political predictions are more difficult even for ‘specialists’.

But it is necessary to attempt to outline key political developments for 2012, as there is talk of a harmonized election and calls for electoral reform before any elections can be held. There is also excitement in elite economic circles about the Community Share Ownership Trusts, Youth Funds and diamond sales.

I predict that the leaders of the inclusive government will once again try and hoodwink the people of Zimbabwe that they are serving their best interests while they slug it out in Cabinet and Parliament over elections, SADC mediation, diamonds and allowances. In order for this to be acceptable to their supporters, they will mix the personal with the political and the political with the economic.

The personal will be in relation to issues to do with the social and private lives of various leaders that will be made public by an eager media, while the economic will be through the partisan distribution of resources either via the Youth Fund or the community trusts that are being established via the indigenization programme.

In both, there will be the cajoling of party supporters to toe the official party line on all issues as well as to try and make sure that party supporters get a piece of the economic pie. In short, it will be a political party fest that will seek to undertake, on behalf of itself, the continuation of a partisan but non-people centered political narrative. It is for this reason that 2012 will be characterized by a number of specific events that are easy to predict. The first such event is that there will be another big political dispute next year over the issue of elections which will once again involve SADC.

As in March 2011, the parties will try and influence SADC on the matter of the election roadmap, security sector reform and sanctions. In doing so, the end result will be similar to the Livingstone SADC Troika Summit whose resolutions ended up being disputed as well as unimplemented.

At best however SADC will probably seek a compromise that will lead to the holding elections at end of the five year term of Parliament, which is 2013.

In the midst of the SADC lobbying, the political parties are going to continue arguing about the contents of the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) draft constitution.

Whoever wins on the contentious issues of the same draft will also take comfort in the knowledge that all of the member parties to COPAC will still campaign for a ‘yes’ vote to the draft in order to save face and to continue with the contested argument that the whole process was ‘people-driven’.

There shall be a well funded ‘yes’ vote campaign that will be used to test the electoral waters. Whatever the result of the referendum, it will be used more for partisan political interests than for broad national legitimizing of the supreme law of the land.

There will also be serious political competition in issues of ‘economic development’, particularly due to the establishment of various support funds for the youth, small scale business, ‘rural women’. A number of projects will be competed over and the youth ministry will be at the forefront of the greater majority of them in a concerted effort to lure young peoples’ votes.

The national economy will continue to be characterized by the dictum, ‘availability of goods (foreign) and services without accessibility’ for the majority of citizens.

The security of citizens will continue to be under threat from repressive laws and security force habits that inhibit the enjoyment of freedoms of assembly, association and expression.

So as it is, 2012 is a year in which our political leaders will appear as though they are very busy trying to resolve national problems when in fact they are resolving their own.

It is up to the people of Zimbabwe to seek to bring them to account on concrete matters that cover the broad spectrum of challenges the country is facing. In doing so, we must be wary of being co-opted into false realities that appear urgent when instead they are the stuff of momentary political flashes in the pan. – By Takura Zhangazha, a political and social commentator. This article can be accessed at http://takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com/2011/12/2012-zimbabwes-year-of-politicized.html

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