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Opinion / Columnist

'If democracy is expensive, dictatorship is seriously expensive ...one cannot afford it'

19 May 2017 at 18:10hrs | Views
Whilst some treat democracy as an expense and burdensome, others think otherwise, it is interesting how this article will walk into the mysterious path of democracy. It is within the interest of the researcher to skirt out all that which has been said and not said about this democracy which Lincoln believes is a government of the people for the people and by the people. In as much as the form of democracy is cast in the mould of culture of a people as Aziz rightly noted it is very essential to note at this juncture how different societies and diverse circumstances require different arrangements for the realization of democratic principles as noted by Chikerema (2016). Therefore, there is serious need to come up with a more democratic theory that recognizes its potential for variation and dynamism.

Illegitimate governments exist today; governments which are not elected by the people are in power today and cannot leave power because of the undying need to further their aggrandizement. To vote in or out a government is no longer a matter today since the buck stops with those with real power. They will just say, "This thing is legal because I wish it".

It is meticulously and painstakingly conspicuous that whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, America, democratic tenets will remain democratic tenets and some argue that democracy is not simply a prescription of political practice but the actual distillation of practice itself. Some tenets of democracy include:

-rule of law

-promotion of freedoms

-apolitical institutions

-respect and observance of human rights

-level political playing field

-voter education, registration etc

-equal access to state media and fair reporting

From the democratic tenets, it is clear that democracy is universally applicable. 'The right to life has to be granted either way so long human beings are involved. Ostensibly, some African leaders regard the issue of rights as alien and they are either autocratic/ authoritarian or dictators.  These people are disdained at consolidating power hence are against the issue of rights.

In Zimbabwe any one against the government or who talks about succession is charged with treason. But I believe it is more treasonous to keep quiet when people decide to turn a deaf ear to the disorganized tunes played by their government. A leaf can be drawn closer home from the Justice Factor in South Africa according to A.F Chikerema.

I am not impressed by Hastings K. Banda who ruled Malawi and had the audacity to bring such an argument that democracy is expensive and brings disunity. He further said that God in Heaven has no opposition and there is no need of opposition in Malawi. That is so pathetic if I may say. How can one equalize himself to His Creator, My Goodness that's blasphemous or rather utter apostasy.

Opposition should forever exist to put pressure on the governments so that they revise the modus operandi , if not so, they should completely remove the government and open a new chapter in what I call the small and sensible book of politics.

Consider Zimbabwe for example, poor political contestation, how opposition political parties are forming grand coalition with the unbridled team spirit of making Zimbabwe better next year.

I stand to refute the expenses and disunity that most African leaders think oscillate around the phenomenon of democracy. How much is this country losing due to corruption daily? How then is it that there is limited scope to think that democracy is expensive hence no need for transparency and accountability in public enterprises. Tender procedures in Zimbabwe are not clear. Meritocracy is something of the past. To those who have, more is being added unto them. A number are landless today but some have lost count of their pieces of land even their exact positions. There is a lot of hero worship going on, corruption, mismanagement of resources, politics of patronage, spoils, oppression and the immediate result is under development. If democracy is expensive, I think dictatorship is seriously expensive to the extent that one cannot afford it.

People's freedoms should be guaranteed and no man should override the view of another.  The problem is that just like in a church, anything can be preached on but the gospel of repentance does not augur well with numbers though it is the truth. Facts are stubborn, democracy doesn't bring disunity neither is it expensive.

Zimbabwe is endowed with so many natural resources but there is no development to talk of. Zimbabwe has turned out to be a street economy where people sell whatever they lay their hands upon because of desperation. Moreover, a surrogate currency, the bond is all that we have, people sleeping in queues at banks and not to be given their full amounts but forced to drink from the cup of poor government management.

Policy programs are becoming white elephants daily at the pretext that democracy is Western and expensive. I am quite honored to quote Mutiso in his book on Philology that, "We are not crying for the white man's things". Democracy is not a tradition of the whites. We want to vote and not to be harassed and beaten, we want neutral electoral bodies, clear separation of power, freedoms, transparency and accountability, rule of law, we yearn for democracy and that's it.

May I bring this to your audience that, a number of things are dysfunctional in Zimbabwe, in Africa, in the World because of leaders who harbor unempirical thoughts on democracy. It's high time that political parties too exercise democracy and relinquish leadership for the better. Elections should be done and not endowments of certain individuals. The castle of democracy should not just start from the central government but even at grass root level it matters too.

I am worried by the lethal condition of women in Africa. Things as little as pads for their menstrual cycles are not provided for by their government yet remain quiet as if everything is okay. Theodore Roosevelt says, "It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the President or anyone else." Girls miss out classes for a week because they do not have pads. Some end up using leaves. Where is the government when girls and women are using leaves for their menstrual cycles?  Is this the government that we should entrust with power when it fails to do the little things for its electorate? I wonder and become more unimpressed.

Essentially, democracies should ensure periodic review of electoral justice system to ensure that it fulfills its function in guaranteeing the holding of free and fair genuine elections. The time is now that elections bring change from the gross suffering o masses to a new dawn of enjoying all democratic dictates and sound governance. No to smoke screen elections or window dressing ritual type of elections.

May the flag of democracy fly higher and may the need of a clear constitutional framework for electoral justice be realized. Electoral justice plays a pivotal role in ensuring the stability of a political system and adherence to the legal framework, thus contributing to the consolidation of democratic governance. Democracy is not expensive, indigenize the democracy yes, but do not derail from its tenets!!!

Written by Patricia Masiyakurima a Third YearStudent in the Department of Politics and Public Management at Midlands State University Zimbabwe.

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Source - Patricia Masiyakurima
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