We love our sporting activities with passion and reverence – the most popular being football, or soccer – with overwhelming support, bordering on fanaticism, for both our local and foreign (particularly, European) teams.
Of course, lately, this enthusiasm has also reached to other so-called ‘minority sports’ – witnessed by the phenomenal support shown our national cricket team, the Chevrons, during their various missions and quests.
In spite of not being particularly a sporting person myself (although, I do enjoy a good game of cricket) – it is always interesting watching all the jovial competitiveness and lighthearted rivalries exhibited by the various, predominantly soccer, fans – as they feverishly back their favorite teams to win, whilst at the same time mocking rivals who would have lost.
This was most evident during the recently held FIFA World Cup – of course, not to be outdone by the ongoing English Premier League – whereby, sporting temperatures can easily reach fever pitch.
It is all truly well and good when we are in our heightened sporting moods – supporting our favorite squads and players with unbridled passion and zeal – without time for giving any thought as to whether the other teams are actually better than ours.
When it comes to games, there is really no need to be overly analytical on the proficiency of rival teams, or giving the slightest idea to switching camps to another – simply because it plays better.
We stubbornly stick to our chosen teams, with unflinching loyalty, regardless of any other considerations – and, wish our opponents defeat, under any circumstances.
It is all fun and games – and, quite understandable, as the essence of all sporting activities.
Nonetheless, the situation becomes totally different when this is no longer a game – especially, when lives of human beings are concerned and at stake.
There is absolutely nothing ‘fun and games’ about matters that may determine, quite literally, life and death of a people – and, whether they eat today, or manage to send their children to school, or access desperately needed medical care, or are able to make ends meet.
This is where we have a huge program in Zimbabwe.
We appear to have a nation that has completely failed to distinguish and separate itself from what is pure ‘fun and games’, and what is a matter of ‘life and death’.
My heart always bleeds when I go through social media, and see what appears to me as the fanatical support of political parties – and, rabid loathing and attacks of opposing groupings – as if this were just another soccer contestation.
The manner in which Zimbabweans have become so over-zealous and tunnel-visioned in the desire for one’s favored political entity to vanquish the other – always leaves me nauseated, with a very bitter taste in my mouth.
I ask myself, “Do we even realize that these parties are not competing for some trophy, but this is a matter of choosing who may uplift or ruin our lives and livelihoods?”
With that in mind, why on earth would I hysterically (and, quite frankly, blindly) support any political party or leader – to such an extent that I hate any one else who may seek to challenge them – whilst, at the same time, stuffing plugs into my ears and shutting my eyes to what the ‘rival’ may be offering, and whether it will actually be good for the nation?
What sense it there in that?
Zimbabweans have suffered enough in this country – and, it would be unbelievably foolhardy for anyone choosing not to carefully study and scrutinize all the available political players – in order to meticulously ascertain who is offering what is truly considered the best solution to the myriad of challenges bedeviling us for the greater part of the past two decades.
As such, there is absolutely no reasonable and justifiable cause for us not to take our time digging deeper, in the hope of understanding the policies and programs proffered by all those offering themselves for election.
Personally, I want to know what exactly the ruling ZANU PF has to offer.
I need to understand what the opposition CCC, MDC Alliance, DUZ, NCA, or whichever others, that will be on the ballot paper, have in their manifestos, and are promising the people of Zimbabwe.
In so doing, there is no way I can dismiss, out of hand, anyone – especially, just because the political party or leader is not my favored one.
Surely, having suffered the way we have – under the unimaginable economic destruction authored by the ZANU PF regime, resulting in untold poverty – why would we not want to choose critically who we believe should be our next leaders?
What would make us not want to hear anything other parties, besides our favored ones, have to say – let alone, spew vitriolic insults, and wild accusations, at them – merely because they dared challenge our parties, and now pose a threat to their winning elections?
In fact, why should anyone even have something called ‘my party’?
There should never be any group that should be regarded as ‘my party’ – as if some soccer team that is supported no matter what – because, when it comes to issues that determine the citizenry’s standard and way of living, it is a matter of ‘who is offering the best policies at that particular time’.
Today, if Party A is the best in terms of its manifesto (and, track record, if there is one), then, that will be the one to vote for.
Nevertheless, if tomorrow, along comes Party B – and, it has even better policies and programs, and/or maybe Party A had failed to deliver – the choice should automatically change.
We can never stubbornly stick to any particular party – and, wish defeat on another, just because it is a ‘rival’.
This is not soccer!
As such, that is why I find the toxicity engulfing our country’s political landscape terribly terrifying and sickening.
What is more disturbing is that those attacking others, or each other, are not even bothering to dwell on matters of policy differences or debates – which are centered on what is offered in respective manifestos.
No, not at all!
These arguments – which my late beloved father referred to as ‘nharo dzemubhawa’, or literally, ‘bar quarrels’, in other words, mindless – are simply based on fanatical support for particular groups, and rabid loathing for any contenders.
How does that show a people who are fed up with the untold poverty and suffering endured under decades of ZANU PF misrule – when we are not even prepared to fastidiously listen and study what other parties have to offer?
Should our interest not purely be based on who is offering the best at that particular time?
We are not exhibiting any signs of a serious people, who desperately want their lives and livelihoods to improve.
We are acting simply as soccer fans, and regarding impending crucial elections as some word cup tournament – whereby, we want ‘our teams’ to win, and our ‘rivals’ to lose, no matter what!
However, people’s lives and livelihoods are not a game – and, the choice of a political party to back, and vote for, should never be a matter of hysteria or fanaticism.
We need to be open-minded, as we listen to each and every candidate – hearing intently to what they have to offer – in order for us to make educated and informed decisions.
For this to happen, there is no room for blind support for any particular party, or even closing out anyone else – but, we actually need to encourage those wishing to be elected to present their plans freely, thereby reaching every Zimbabwean.
Quite frankly, my choice of whom to vote for may be made a few days before elections – since, I have to be absolutely sure that this is the right party and person for my country and constituency.
There should never be any blinkers on our eyes – if we genuinely desire a better Zimbabwe.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org