Pursuit of democratic ideals vs Economic plunder

Those in the pro-democracy movement fighting for human rights, good governance and genuine freedom have repeatedly been targets of hate-speech from defenders of the status quo. In the state-controlled media - ZBC TV and the Herald - they have been called regime change agents, sell-outs, western stooges, and, more recently, academic Selous Scouts. For this reason, it is imperative that the objectives of the struggle for democracy be laid out for the edification of the general public.

The new AU HQ opened during this Summit: ‘a gift to Africa from the Chinese government’.
The new AU HQ opened during this Summit: ‘a gift to Africa from the Chinese government’.

At the core of this struggle is the need to ensure a total transformation of political power and how it is exercised. It is about enabling the people to participate freely in the election of their leaders through regular, non-violent, free and fair elections.

The fundamental right of citizens to choose whom they wish to represent them in parliament or as president means that, even if they choose the proverbial ‘baboon’ as their leader, so be it. No one individual or group of people should patronize citizens and purport to know what leadership is best for them.

Democracy is about good governance and putting an end to corruption and other abuses of public office. Zimbabwe’s current political system is largely sustained by corruption, patronage and plunder of national resources by those in positions of authority. Those viciously defending the status quo are doing so driven by a desire to protect ill-gotten wealth or position.

It is common practice within state institutions that promotion is not based on merit, but on political allegiance. Corrupt individuals and political parties therefore benefit at the expensive of the entire nation. Instead of fighting for the common good, the struggle is for the perpetuation of the corrupt system of using state resources to reward sycophants.

A major short-coming of Zimbabwe’s so-called land reform programme was that it was not about genuine re-distribution of land to achieve equity and justice, but about rewarding political loyalists. It is no wonder that, despite agreeing in the GPA to a comprehensive, non-partisan land audit to establish accountability and eliminate multiple farm ownership, this continues to be fiercely resisted by Zanu (PF).

The same template of reward and political patronage was used to parcel out portions of the Marange diamond fields, and is again being used to implement the indigenization policies and the community share schemes. The struggle for democracy seeks to transform political governance to introduce transparency and accountability and abolish a system whereby state resources, including food aid, are parceled out on political grounds.

As a result of constricted political space that has all but strangled democracy, Zimbabwe has suffered a massive brain drain, with our best entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, judges, writers, economists fleeing to countries where merit, not political hogwash, is rewarded. Zimbabwe boasts of one of the most educated populations in Africa, thanks to President Mugabe’s early policies, but the bulk of that educated sector is scattered across the globe, contributing to the development of other nations because their own country has rejected merit in favour of political patronage.

With an extremely partisan police, perpetrators of violence roam free while their victims are incarcerated on trumped up charges. The struggle goes on to ensure that the police are professional and non-partisan, defending citizens and maintaining law and order, not acting as a willing appendage of one political party. Good governance means a restoration of the rule of law. The current system gives the impression that there is law for pro-democracy supporters and virtually no law for Zanu (PF) supporters.

It is therefore easy, in fact frequently economically rewarding in the short-term, for one to support the status quo. Chances are that you would be handsomely rewarded with farmland, a portion of the diamond fields, or a slice of the community share trust schemes.

Beneficiaries of the current patronage system cannot be expected to use their ill-gotten wealth to promote democracy and good governance – for that would amount to killing the golden goose.

Business people at home and in the diaspora should seriously consider and start funding initiatives that promote good governance. There is no better way to give back to the community.

The challenge for pro-democracy actors is to inspire people to reject false, short-term economic gains for the greater good of the country. This means introducing a clear, distinct approach to governance representing a radical departure from the current way of doing things. This would include a total rejection of violence, corruption, political patronage and debunking the myth that all politicians are the same. – Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Post published in: Politics

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