“A politician thinks of the next election – a statesman, of the next generation.”
This is a powerful statement in respect of political leadership in Zimbabwe.
P>Both Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) owe it to posterity to negotiate the country out of the current crisis.
The country once tipped to be the jewel of Africa is currently facing its greatest test of democracy and it is the height of hypocrisy to pretend that Zanu PF or the MDC does not matter for whatever convenient reason one may choose.
There is no doubt that the 2005 parliamentary election will be closely fought between the MDC and Zanu PF if the so-called Sadc protocol on elections is implemented on time.
It is pointless to discuss whether the decision by the MDC to boycott election is right or wrong because it is common cause. One only needs to read the protocol to understand whether it is being implemented or not.
Everywhere in the world, the roads on the political landscape do curve. It is naïve to expect everyone to respond positively to change especially those who have been enjoying the advantages of the status quo.
The world is definitely keeping an eagle’s eye on Zimbabwe and we are lucky that at least the world has some interest in us so we should not disappoint. We have “taken” our land so let us now run our country properly.
Zimbabwe is a great country with tremendous potential and our leaders have the challenge to enable the nation to realise its full potential.
As for the MDC, like any other young political party, critics emerge asking critical questions about its direction.
Even if you have a coalition and involved key stakeholders, the critics, sceptics and cynics will challenge you – and they will be strongest not at the beginning but in the middle of your efforts.
Leaders are in politics for results and they have to feel the pressure to deliver. One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Voltaire once said: “I don’t agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This is a point which the public media has failed to understand. People deserve the chance to listen to the alternative views and judge them on the basis of their policies.
In the event that the MDC is the people’s informed choice, then negotiations of some sort will be necessary to avoid retribution which may follow defeat in a sharply divided society like ours.
There is need for Zanu PF and the MDC to know and understand the principles of negotiating that “you must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.”
The country needs hope and the hope comes from people expressing their views.
Martin Luther King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
When the Zanu PF leadership tells us that things have improved and the economy is recovering, let us hope that they are not referring to the slow decline of the economy rather than a significant recovery. With no significant production and exports where does the recovery come from? When the Chinese dump their plastics in Zimbabwe and as once reported, evade taxation, how do we boost our economy and protect our domestic clothing industry?
The most critical question for both Zanu PF and the MDC is: what will they bequeath to posterity.
Future generations will judge harshly whoever squandered the glorious opportunities to lead the country to the greatness it deserved. It is however not just a question for the leadership to do everything, everyone else should identify a role to play if Zimbabwe is to be a better place.
Simply put, the 2005 parliamentary election is an opportunity for Zimbabweans to make a real commitment to democracy. Thanks to the Sadc protocol, the benchmarks are clear. It is however not enough to leave everything to Sadc. This is why Zanu PF MPs Charles Majange and Daniel McKenzie Ncube argued in London that, no matter how long we can fight each other, the round table will always be waiting for us.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, is really trying to give democracy a chance by lobbying Sadc leaders like South African president Thabo Mbeki to convince President Mugabe to see the sense of negotiating. We know that some corrupt soldiers of political fortune are making negotiations between the MDC and Zanu PF difficult because their only constituency is Mugabe. If he goes they have no reason to remain.
The most important things our leaders should bring to the people are passion, conviction and confidence in others. They have to offer a dream, stretching their horizons and encouraging people to do the same. More often, for change to take place, leaders need to involve people who have the resources, the knowledge and political clout to make things happen.
Zimbabwe needs opinion shapers, the experts in the field and value leaders. We need a new beginning because we cannot continue on our road to nowhere, otherwise future generations will not know peace.