Democracy or dictatorship

A closer look at the notion of decision-making shows beyond any doubt that it involves “the selection from two or more reasonable possibilities of a course that will, at the time and under the circumstances, provide the most suitable solution to the problem at hand” (Groves, 1950:434). However, decision-making isn’t as simple as that.

It is, instead, an intricate process that is influenced by various disciplines including social sciences, physical sciences, pure sciences, mathematics and applied sciences. In the words of Goel (1994:165), the ultimate purpose of decision-making is “to ensure rational, feasible, acceptable and practical decisions”. The fundamental question of this contribution revolves around the choice between democracy and dictatorship, which we have to make as Zimbabweans.

I am not oblivious of the fact that the discussion of democracy in politics naturally produces discursive tensions. This may be a result of the mere fact that there appears to be no clear consensus on what constitutes democracy. Even so, I am of the viewpoint that there are some generally agreed guidelines on how leaders should conduct themselves when governing their people.

Cultural evolution

In particular, citizens won’t be demanding too much if they ask their leaders to guarantee free and fair elections, free speech and respect for fundamental human rights. As we argued in the recent past, democracy is by its nature, a product of cultural evolution. It embodies ideas, ideals and orientations, and has developed a sense of propriety through conventional practice and historical consensus. Perhaps this explains why the present world has no place for dictatorship.

Dictatorship has become the greatest challenge facing the world today, and it is a particularly serious problem in Africa. The issue of dictatorship recently assumed international significance following the violent death of Africa’s strongman and long-serving dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The bottom line is that genuine rational politics require membership of a particular type of moral community.

Political strategies

Choosing democracy ahead of dictatorship implies the respect for fundamental principles of democracy which apply to every community. As such, any democracy worthy of the name cannot operate without the crystallization of differing political strategies. However, a multiparty system doesn’t automatically guarantee the existence of democracy if it fails to establish that the change of government only follows a change in the political opinion of the electorate. This change in political opinion is largely a result of concrete alternative party programmes.

Struggle for freedom

It can therefore be said that the political system of democracy, be it parliamentary or presidential democracy, cannot function without political parties.

Political modernisation and the consolidation of a democratic system cannot work without political parties. Perhaps this explains why their manifestos should be dedicated to democracy, social justice, and the dignity and freedom of the individual.

Political parties have to be open to all social strata, ethnic groups and religions. Eventually, it is incumbent upon political parties to accept the necessity of social and political reforms to realise democracy and achieve social justice. Our struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe is no doubt a genuine response to President Robert Mugabe’s indefensible resistance to meaningful social and political reforms.

The lack of political or conceptual orientation in the programmes of Zimbabwean political parties is the most glaring evidence of the immaturity and tawdriness of democracy. Mugabe is propagating the notorious notion of sovereignty to justify his undemocratic hold on power.

I fervently believe that our emotional and intellectual involvement in the struggle for our freedom should be genuine. Some of us will have to be martyrs and our sacrifice should endorse the promise of liberty. I hope we will find some consolation from Christianity’s affirmation that death is not the end.

Lessons from the past

We need to draw fundamental lessons and experiences from our past. Being conscious of one’s history is a sign of renaissance. Let’s have a panoramic look at Tunisia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Libya, and Syria. If it can happen in those countries, it can happen in Zimbabwe.

Demonstrations are no doubt part of the process of stimulating legislation and law enforcement. They are largely credited for having a creative effect on the social and psychological climate that is not matched by the legislative process.

Mugabe continues to trample our rights. This intolerable condition will continue as long as we choose to do nothing. We have a choice to make – it’s either democracy or dictatorship. In a nut-shell, “Man’s inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of the bad, it is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of the good” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr).

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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