The people must come first

The political ideals of the liberation struggle were to create a country where the majority was emancipated from the socio-economic hardships and deprivations endured simply because they happened to be born black.

Unfortunately political parties are formed based on ideals, but are soon overtaken by the vested interests of those in leadership and thus we get a disconnect between stated noble intentions and actual actions of politicians on the ground.

By nature, political structures and motives are in conflict with what is best for the majority of citizens. The question is: how do we align politics and its nature with the interests of citizens so that the objectives of politics continue to be aligned with our needs? Furthermore, how do we remove the tendency of politics to serve the interests of the party first at the expense of serving the needs of citizens? If we can answer this question intelligently, we shall have begun on a new path of freedom and liberty – a goal that remains elusive not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa as a whole.

The results of partisan interests at the expense of broad-based socio-economic development and emancipation of the majority of Africans are simply because political structures tend to reward loyalty and blind support and not competence.

In Zimbabwe, we have witnessed an agricultural sector transformation that achieved political objectives at the expense of the economic wellbeing of us all. Those who presided over this disaster are still with us today, responsible for the very same sector which they decimated. That is politics for you.

We are also now witnessing the decimation of our industrial base under the guise of indigenisation – at the expense of job creation and poverty alleviation. We shall soon realise that again this policy is more about politics and not about securing the economic interests of ordinary citizens.

My ideas on the future go against the grain. They go against the belief systems that those in politics have the talents and competencies required to effectively transform our societies into better social systems. I am against political hierarchies, patronage systems and how politicians continue to misallocate our resources. I do not believe that those who end up in politics are necessarily committed to the ideals of building better, more informed, free and prosperous communities.

We must create new social management systems that involve our communities, are accountable to our communities and that bring the best among us to be the custodians of our future.

We need to build new socio-political systems from the ground up. We need to ensure that these systems maintain their integrity and objectives, something which our current political parties continually fail to do. These structures must be accountable to the communities and those who have leadership positions must be quickly dismissed if they fail to perform or are seen to be serving their own personal needs and not those of the community.

We cannot afford to have a culture of entitlement as we have now, where individuals remain in leadership for other reasons and not because they are competent in performing their duty to serve the country. The social cost of this is just too high.

If we agree that the people come first, then the social management structures we require must be true to this. Political campaigning is full of lies and innuendo designed to achieve the short term objective of political power. How can we rely on such a process to elect those who will deliver? Corruption, greed, political appointments and favoritism characterise our politics and yet every five years we return to this very process that is not working. Something has to change.

In my mind our society should be made up of community development forums that are ward-based – made up of local residents who have the competence to implement the agenda that are agreed upon by the community. Each ward would then be represented at constituency level and members would be accountable, not to a political party, but to the community they represent. This seems to me the only way we can remove the conflict of interest that currently exists between party politics and the people.

Our communities can only be made strong if we all get involved to rebuild them. Politicians will not do that and where they have tried to do so, we have seen communities being divided and others favoured based on their blind support for the party.

I encourage ordinary Zimbabweans to come together and establish such structures. We need to take our power back so that we may begin to see the change that we want to see.

I am certainly willing and able to assist. Of course it will not be a quick and easy task, but that is the only choice we have if we are to become who we truly are.

– Vince Musewe is an economist based in Harare; you may contact him on [email protected]

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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