By Francisca Mandeya
POLITICS seems to have acquired a meaning that is associated with evil and rebellion.
It is deemed taboo to discuss by the ordinary citizen and only worthy of being discussed by certain people.
As I debate from within, I begin
to wonder if I am not going to be labelled rebellious and mischievous by those who consider themselves qualified to dabble in politics. The big question here is: who gives people the qualifications to be eligible to participate in politics in Zimbabwe?
There has been name-calling and long tirades on unqualified people engaging in politics. Some churches have been known to receive negative publicity for allegedly involving themselves in politics. Politics has been customised and privatised by those who perceive themselves as the worthy class. As for who gives them the audacity to label others evil, one wonders.
Some politicians take advantage of people and see them as objects to be manipulated. After gaining political power through using the people, they defile politics and encourage people to “pray”.
The very weapon they have used to acquire power suddenly becomes defiled.
A good Christian, according to these qualified politicians, does not get involved in politics, save for voting them into power.
My research on the meaning of politics leaves me with no doubt that someone is trying to deprive people of the opportunity to live fully by defiling the word politics.
Father Ferdinand Cardenal, in his speech made in Nicaragua in 1980, said “political” was derived from the word polis, which meant city.
Political or politics means related to a concern or interest in the city.
The sad thing is that Zimbabweans have been systematically domesticated into believing the myth that politics is taboo. What is the problem with people critically analysing matters political; that is matters of interest in the city?
Some Zimbabwean brothers and sisters have gone for three months without water supplies yet they pay their bills.
A colleague who stays in Chitungwiza at one time had sewerage flowing into her house and when I challenged her what she was doing about it she said she would not dare meddle in politics.
I asked her if she was not at risk as human waste was ankle deep in her house but she appeared happy to cook in a house “perfumed” by the stench of fresh sewerage.
I do not seem to be able to separate politics from the cultural, social, environmental and economic activities. Politics does not exist on its own. Rather, it is entrenched in our daily lives.
One cannot talk about food, water, housing, health and the rest of the fundamental human needs and how these needs are met on a daily basis and still claim not to be talking politics.
Political decisions affect people’s daily lives. What President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutmbara do and say has a bearing on our lives.
As Father Ferdinand asserted in his speech, I agree that: “Politics is the art of assuming that all people in this nation progress, that all of us conquer and win our freedom, our liberty, our independence and peace and justice necessary so that love can be nourished to grow and reign over all.
“It is the love by which people work together to transform inhuman and unjust conditions, it is part of the noble quest and struggle of humanity for dignity and justice.”
Therefore politics is life, to deny one involvement in politics is to deny them their right to live fully and is tantamount to human rights violation.
We should all participate in matters that touch our lives and claim our rights and honour our obligations without feeling guilty about taking part in politics.
One can be a truthful and loving politician. Let’s challenge the myth that politics is a dirty game.
* Francisca Mandeya is a development studies student.