By Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana
FOUR decades of independence did not mature Zimbabweans to the probity of unity and prosperity in diversity.They did not embrace the winsome culture of political tolerance.Consequently, it is to their detriment that they are polarised and utterly dysfunctional.
Yet, at its unadulterated nature, politics is an honourable enterprise. It is a fair-minded venture whose primary objective is to strive for democratic transformation of conflicts into compromises for the collective good of citizenry. As I see it, politics is consensus building.Human dignity and well-being stem from a well-nurtured political environment.
It is self-evident that politics is the foundation on which human society stands on. Show me a democratic and thriving citizenry and in return I will introduce you to positive functionalities of politics.Contrary to deeply held misconceptions, politics is by no means a dirty game.
It is neither filthy, nor stained. Essentially, politics is the time-tested democratic practice of debate, discussion and resolution. It is a collective bargaining process.Actually, politicians deserve the veneration and confidence my generation used to bestow in the teacher and the preacher.
But, the prevalence of pretentious politicians who are overtly devilishly bloody and thunderous, compels it to be viewed with askance.
However, it is my fervent conviction that politics is the refinery processing of ideas. It is a mutual deliberation of according due consideration and weighting of competing perspectives. Yet, oftentimes it would be doing a patchwork of politics whenever the powerful subdue the weak.Regrettably, since the dawn of civalisation, politics has been prostituted.
Like all other well-intentioned practices, among them economics, politics suffers invasion by self-seekers whose singular constituency is to satisfy their insatiable hunger for power and dominance. History abounds with hordes of bloodthirsty hounds who masqueraded as bona fide politicians. Such ones were ordinarily inflamed by unquenchable lust for power and subjugation.
They subscribed to the erroneous belief that political opponents were prey to be pounded.It grieves the human spirit that they regarded genocide and atrocity as synonyms of politics. Far afield one name that springs to mind is Adolf Hitler. Yet, as the case with him, nearer home there are carnivore-like leaders whose weird politics claimed many lives.
Sadly, as I see it, Zimbabwe is in this league. Her notorious culture of political intolerance stinks in the region and far beyond.
She has leaders who claim to be liberators, yet they wrought terror on citizenry. Little wonder, her decomposed political culture raises a stench. She has long been tarnished by the militarisation of politics, on one hand, and the practice of State institutions partisanship on the other.
Politics, especially opposition, was robbed of the aroma of enjoyment. It is now a venture one engages in primarily at their own risk.Although elections are held after every five years as prescribed by the Constitution, they are nonetheless held on the backdrop of an appalling lack of civility.
It is folly to expect them to be free and fair given the military declaration that it does not salute a President who has no military credentials. It is, therefore, known that elections are a tense event.
Ever since the coming to being of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, political language became a pointedly reading of the Riot Act.
Political opponents were virtually classified as enemies of the State. When a former head of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, (ZEC) knelt before the late former President Robert Mugabe, she was obviously anxious about the darkening clouds under which elections are customarily held. She must have wished for the cup to be taken from her as did Jesus.
Methinks she was shuddering at the spectre of expectations the then ironman had on the electoral body. What is particularly untoward, if not absolutely uncouth, about politics of Zimbabwe is that it was reduced to donnybrook.
It is devoid of democratic ideals. Powerholders resort to the armoury in their resolve to consolidate their mighty.
A case in point is the fateful August 1 2018 use of excessive force to silence alternative political voices. Such antagonism towards opponents fuels the misconception that politics is dirty.
Although the prevailing political culture is distinctly noisome, it is my fervent prayer that it dawns on the rulership to realise that politics thrives on persuation, not by coercion.
Actually, an absence of political tolerance spells doom for whatever country.One need not look any further than Zimbabwe for an example of a country destituted by a militarised political culture of intolerance.
Breaking from the Commonwealth was one such regressive decision based on an intransigent attitude.With all due respect, targeted sanctions that are being said to be illegal are a frankly deserved punishment for our wanton political culture.
Blaming others for the sanctions is like blaming the crookedness of one’s shoe on the manufacturer yet the shoe took the shape of your foot.It is a prerequisite for national development to inculcate a new political culture. After all, politics and economics are inseparable close cousins.
It is impractical to adore one and loathe the other.Democracy thrives only when political opponents stay together in the pack in spite of their different schools of thought.Methinks of all remedies the country desperately needs, the one for a culture of political tolerance is as self-announcing as pregnancy.
Zimbabwe is not supposed to be languishing in beggary. She is immensely rich in resources that she does not deserve to appeal for handouts. But, convention has it that a country with a decomposed political culture cannot have a vibrant economy.
It is an absolute perfidy of liberation ideals for a section of citizenry to stifle others on the basis that it fought the war.
As I see it, it is imperative to demilitarise politics so that both Jew and Gentile can aspire for Presidency without apprehensions of military ejection.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana email email@example.com mobile +263776413010 is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.