Zimbabwe needs radical politics – that of politicians who tell the truth

One of the Democratic Party hopefuls for the 2016 United States (US) Presidential elections, Bernie Sanders, said something profound in his speech soon after the 'Super Tuesday III' primaries last week - something that made me think of Zimbabwe's own politics.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

He said that, although he was trailing his fellow Democratic Party rival, Hillary Clinton, in the primaries, the main reason that he had performed better than originally expected was because he had done something radical in US politics – and that was to tell the truth.

His statement implied that US politics has all along been characterised by lies and lies and more lies, especially during election campaigns, and he had decided to radically change that by telling the truth.

It made me think of my own country, Zimbabwe, and how it was time for the same radical change in our politics – whereby, politicians needed to start telling the truth – especially during election campaigning – as people were now sick and tired of being lied to – time and time again.

Is Zimbabwe ever going to have a radical politician who will step up and tell the truth, without fear of losing voters?

Is anyone out there brave enough to say exactly what they believe without first considering whether that will win or lose them votes?

Similarly, are we, as Zimbabweans, finally going to demand the truth from our politicians, and hold them accountable if they fail to deliver on those promises?

Going back to the US Presidential election, I believe that the main reason a person like Donald Trump is getting so much support is because Americans view his brutal honesty as refreshing.

I do not believe all those people voting for him in the Republican Party primaries are racist bigots, but a significant number of them just got attracted to his honesty.

Additionally, I do not believe that when Trump initially said all those bigoted statements at the start of his campaign, he was being populist and seriously thought that would attract voters.

He was just being Donald Trump – opinionated, attention-seeking, and just wanted to create controversies so as to make the news headlines.

He honest didn’t care what people would think of what he said – he was not out to get votes.

I believe that he was shocked, more than the rest of us, by the resultant ‘popularity’ and winning streak.

That should also be lesson to Zimbabwean politicians.

I am not advocating for a bigoted politician like Donald Trump in Zimbabwean politics, but we need someone who can say what they truly believe they can deliver to the people once voted into office, and be honest on what they will not be able to deliver.

Politicians who try that approach may actually be shocked that, instead of losing votes, they might actually win – as Zimbabweans are yearning for someone they can finally trust, someone who tells the truth.

The people’s  trust in politicians has all but died, as they (politicians) are always viewed as liars and deceivers.

All the politician jokes out there centre around how they are liars.

That is definitely not a good thing – in fact, it is downright dangerous, as politicians and politics deal with people’s lives on a day to day basis.

It is very serious business, and it is certainly not a game – as some people are fond of calling it.

It is not a game – and certainly not a place for liars – when politics affects the very livelihood of a nation.

Today in Zimbabwe, 4 million people are on the brink of starvation, millions are out of works, millions more have fled to the diaspora, thousands of companies are closing down – all because of politicians.

What is needed now is for people’s trust in politicians to be restored.

This is not being idealistic, it can be done.

It is a matter of will – both on the part of the politicians to tell the truth, and on the part of the electorate to demand that truth, and hold the politicians accountable.

The time has come for a politician who would be bold enough to step up and honestly say what he/she can do and can not do.

Even if the politician was to come up and promise to deliver only one thing, and honestly tell the people that he/she can not deliver on anything else – that refreshing honesty will win the hearts of the people.

The days of promising people to build them 10,000 houses, but then fail to build even a single one – except his/her own – are over.

As much as we are suffering in Zimbabwe, I would rather trust a politician who comes to me and tells me honestly that if I voted for him/her, there is not much he/she can promise me in terms of creating jobs because of this and that – than someone who comes to me and says that if I voted for him/her, 100,000 jobs will be created within the first 90 days of his/her Presidency.

We have heard such promises before, and as much as the people are suffering – and understandably need relief – but desperation is what has led us to being so easily hoodwinked by these wily politicians.

Let us, as Zimbabweans, not let our pain, poverty, and suffering cloud our judgement in the forthcoming 2018 elections.

As much as we want to immediately get out of this living nightmare that the ZANU PF government has subjected us to for far too long, let discernment be the operative word.

Additionally, there has to be put in place some sort of legally-binding contract (I hope the legal minds out there can help us here), that will ensure that whatever a politician would have promised to deliver during electioneering would be legally binding, and failure to deliver should result in that politician being forced to step down.

That contract should clearly define the terms and time-frames in which these promises are to be fulfilled.

The 2018 elections should be radical and a turning point in Zimbabwe politics, where Zimbabweans themselves finally take charge of the political landscape, and hold politicians accountable in everything – never again shall politicians consider themselves the bosses, but the people will be.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his own personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]com

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