Zimbabweans should take back power from political parties

For nearly four decades, since Zimbabwe attained its independence from Great Britain in 1980, real prosperity, democracy and development have alluded the majority of citizens of this nation - leaving most in a stance of hopelessness, wondering if we were ever meant to enjoy even a single day of a semblance of life remotely akin to that experienced by other human beings in more developed countries.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Is it any wonder that most Zimbabweans have resigned their fate to either spiritual charlatans – who promise them ‘heaven on earth’ with their skewed interpretation of the Bible – or, the various political parties that we have witnessed sprouting in this country over the past four decades.

Of course, none of these have brought any respite for the long-suffering majority, who have had to endure day after day of a seemingly cursed 40-year long nightmare – characterized by repeated shortages of food and other essentials, salaries that never seem to be enough even for a modest lifestyle, and chronic unemployment.

Can the people of Zimbabwe ever taste prosperity? Will that day ever come when it will be in everyone’s reach to just walk into an automobile dealer shop and purchase one’s car of choice? Go through the classified ads of a newspaper looking for a decent house to buy? Take the whole family out for day of shopping, whereby our children will be able to choose their favorite clothes?

Or, are we doomed to forever be counting the few dollars in our pockets wondering if we will have enough food till the next pay cheque? Have sleepless nights counting the days before the opening of schools, having nightmares of where we will get enough fees for our children? Fervently praying that no member of our family ever gets sick, as there is no where to acquire money needed for the ever-expensive medication? Keeping the doors locked and windows shut (even in the midst of a sweltering afternoon) in order to avoid the landlord, as we would not have enough rent?

Is this the norm for the ordinary Zimbabwean? Is this what we have to get used to sooner, rather than later?

Of course not!

So, why are we not waking up from this perpetual nightmare? Why are we still falling deeper into this dark abyss, whilst no one seems to be hearing our cries?

The answer is that we have been embarking on the wrong path as a people. We have given up all our powers to bring about change in our own lives. We allowed others, who have their own agendas and objectives, to take over our lives’ destinies. We reneged our responsibilities over own lives to others, whom we have so gullibly expected to care for us enough to take us to the promised land.

Is it, therefore, any wonder we find ourselves in this mess? Who else besides ourselves can define the direction we want our lives to take?

For 40 years we have floated through life in a fairytale-like belief that there are noble people out there who will stand up for our rights, and who will speak for us. For some strange reason, we believed that if we voted for someone into office, they would be honest and benevolent enough to do what is right, without us having to keep them constantly on their toes.

Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works. No one loves you more than YOU – and as such, there is no one else under the sun that will shape and define YOUR life and its destiny better than YOU!

No one in the governing political party will do it. No one in the opposition will do it for us, either.

Politics is a career, and these people (politicians) are in this for themselves and their families – not for US. That is their work. They may use OUR name, use OUR suffering, use OUR poverty – but, all this is solely for THEM to further their own political and financial careers.

We vote for them, with misplaced hope that they will fulfill their promises to make our lives better – only to be dismally disappointed when this does not happen…and then we go back to saying, “the former leader was better”.

We then repeat this same cycle over and over again, as we continue voting in new parties and new leaders – who merely do the same thing that the previous government did – misgovernance, corruption, oppression and repression.

When will we then learn that these politicians are in it for themselves, and if we are serious about OUR OWN futures, then WE OURSELVES have to take the bull by its horns by defining OUR OWN destinies.

A quick look at the founding values and principles of our nation, as stated in Chapter 1 Section 3(2)f of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, shows that our government’s authority to govern is derived from the PEOPLE – that is, US.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE hold the power over this country’s future, and its destiny is in OUR hands. As such, we should NEVER delegate that power to anyone else in the fallacious hope that they will care for us more than they care for themselves.

We should take time out to watch the live broadcast of the Zimbabwe parliamentary question and answer on television, to have a fuller understanding of what I mean.

Most of these sessions are riddled with childish heckling and jeering on matters that seldom have anything to do with bread and better issues that affect the ordinary Zimbabwean’s day to day survival.

Both sides of the parliamentary divide – ruling party and opposition – are there to serve their own party interests – of course, under the usual veil of ‘the people of Zimbabwe’, yet clearly most of these matters have no bearing whatsoever on improving our livelihoods.

In an ideal world, indeed our parliamentarians should be our representatives, and, therefore, be our voices – as they hold the other arms of government (executive and judiciary) accountable.

However, we are far from an ideal world, and our parliament has proven itself to be nothing more than a glorified boxing ring for the contending political parties to face-off with each other to further their own selfish agendas.

Thus, WE, THE PEOPLE, are left in the cold, with no choice but to speak out, and stand up for ourselves.

We are the ones who are suffering and fully comprehend our own genuine needs and aspirations – not those ostensibly peddled by those in politics.

This is where citizen power comes in.

Instead of waiting for the government to do this and that for us, or for the opposition to stand up for us – something they will only do when it is convenient for them, as they have their own grander ambitions and agendas – we should use the POWER that WE have to stand up for OURSELVES.

We are effectively the FORTH branch of government – as we are the only ones who should efficiently hold the executive, legislature, and judiciary to account.

We should immediately relinquish the misplaced notion that we need an organized movement to stand up for us.

A very good example is how the people of Zimbabwe recently so enviably stood up together against the proposed Marriages Bill – especially Section 40’s recognition of civil unions, even between those married under Chapter 5:11.

We all spoke with one voice – without the need to politicize the matter. The people of Zimbabwe stood together irrespective of their political affiliations, or lack of, and spoke against what we did not want in a peaceful, constitutional and progressive manner. And we were heard.

That is citizen power.

It is not about regime change, or forcing out a sitting government – but, fearlessly pushing for what we believe is in our best interests.

Of course, each cause will be different, and its intensity varied – as people will obviously face more resistance when there is more to lose for those in authority.

However, the model is the same – the people of Zimbabwe banding together for what truly are their best interests, without allowing selfish political agendas to hijack their cause.

The true fight against wanton corruption, poverty, and injustice is in our hands.

If ever the people of this great nation want to taste true prosperity, freedom and peace in our lifetime, then we need to wake up and smell the coffee. We can never, and should never relegate our powers to politicians expecting them to find it in their hearts to uplift our livelihoods.

The authority they have to govern is derived from US, THE PEOPLE – and this is the time WE showed them who is BOSS.

• Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on – email: [email protected], or WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640, or Calls Only: +263715667700, or +263782283975.

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