Let’s take back lost power

FORMER US president Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as government of the people by the people for the people.

Inherent in this definition is the retention of power to the people being governed. If it was possible the best government that would be truly representative is a government where every citizen would be part of the leadership and governing process. This is however practically impossible hence the need to elect representatives in the form of MPs and senators. These elected individuals are called “honourable” not because they have achieved that status themselves but only because they have been chosen by the people to represent them.

They carry the honour of the people. In other words they are carrying the respect of representing the people. Such a representative is therefore supposed to represent the people’s wishes to the full and not his own. His own views, important as they may be, are supposed to be discussed at the consultation stage with his constituency but what they carry forward should be the views of this mandate. This therefore suggests that the representative has to be in constant consultation with his or her constituency otherwise if they are not, whose views are they carrying?

The electorate generally take a backseat approach after electing their representatives and surrender all their views and power to the whims of the elected few who in turn have grown to abuse this power. It has to be borne in mind that the elected generally yield to the trappings of power and tend to think of themselves more than those who elected them. We tend to surrender all our power to these representatives at our own peril because election promises are seldom kept once power has been attained. It is from these elected representatives that most of the government ministers are chosen by president.

It is therefore wise to keep a tight leash on the legislature and the executive as well. Such a leash would keep them in check, as the people will pull on it once they start straying.

What other way to do so than to ensure that our constitution bestows most of its power on the people themselves. It should not be easy to advance the selfish ends of a few or small groups regardless of the background of such groupings. Our constitution should embrace laws that make it impossible for the representatives not to consult their constituencies constantly.

They also have to constantly report back to their constituencies with answers to previously raised questions and concerns. The representatives in the true spirit of leadership must be servants of the people who should give both verbal and written report-backs to the people at predetermined intervals. From the people they came to the people they should frequently go. It is true that some MPs and ministers have more allegiance to their party leadership or a highly placed government leader rather than the people that elected them.

Ric Basvi,
Harare.

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