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'Dr Dabengwa lost the plot'

30 Nov 2016 at 13:08hrs | Views
This article is in response to a presentation made by ZAPU leader, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa at a Public Dialogue at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa on 23 November 2016. His presentation was titled "The Armed Struggle: Was it worth it?' In his presentation the liberation war ex-combatant made a lot of interesting observations, some of which should not go unchallenged.

Dr Dabengwa correctly pointed out the background to the colonization of Zimbabwe, the resistance that was put up by the indigenous people against the settlers, the subsequent waging of the second Chimurenga by both the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) leading to national independence in 1980.

It is however disheartening that Dr Dabengwa conveniently misled his audience that universal suffrage had been replaced in Zimbabwe by what he referred to as "universal control by a powerful President and a ruling clique". Nothing could be further from the truth. First and foremost it is a fact that anyone who reaches the age of majority in Zimbabwe is allowed to vote. Political parties are allowed to contest elections in Zimbabwe. In fact there is no requirement for political parties to register in Zimbabwe. All that a party wishing to contest elections has to do is to mobilise supporters for the nomination of its candidates during the nomination court sittings. If ZAPU loses elections to more popular parties, it should not mislead people into believing that universal suffrage has been replaced. It is not clear what Dr Dabengwa refers to as the "ruling clique". From political science we understand that a winning party has to assemble an administration that has the mandate to implement its electoral manifesto. This forms the basis for the civil service that is led by politicians who championed the electoral manifesto.

Dr Dabengwa's further claim that the culture of "winner-takes-all" in Zimbabwe has not given room to goal-oriented collaboration is again a manifestation of frustration arising from successive electoral losses. The Constitutional set-up in Zimbabwe is such that the winning party sets the agenda for its term in office. What collaboration does he expect when his party has been rejected by the electorate? All parties that won seats in Zimbabwe's electoral history have been members of the Parliament and even Cabinet. In 1980 ZAPU and the Rhodesian Front had seats in Parliament and Cabinet. ZANU Ndonga at one time had representatives in Parliament, right up to the time of the current MDC formations. What is critical to note is that the mandate to participate in national governance is derived from the electorate, not from some opaque deal-making behind the scenes.  The ZAPU leader goes on to bemoan that the "winner-takes-all" mentality has even permeated the opposition political parties. Here is an exposition of a failed politician who is seeking to sustain a political career through riding on the backs of other political parties that enjoy electoral support. Be advised good Doctor that you need to mobilise support on the strength of popular policies to enjoy political power than to cry for collaborations with other parties.

Dabengwa claimed that ZANU PF was unwilling to adopt a culture of peaceful transfer of power through free and fair elections. This accusation is hollow as it is on record that Zimbabwe has religiously held elections as and when they became due since 1980. Various parties have been contesting these elections with mixed results. It is on record that MDC almost won a Parliamentary majority on 2000. The fact that no party has beaten ZANU PF to claim the mandate to govern cannot be blamed on ZANU PF. ZAPU has tried its electoral luck and lost dismally, even its own backyard in the Matabeleland region. Expect no benevolence in politics Doctor.

Calls for electoral reforms will always be there as the political field is not a stagnant terrain. New developments, ideologies and fluid regional and international political practices will always make the case for some electoral reforms here and there. To, however, claim that the ZANU PF Government is against electoral reforms is to confuse issues. Electoral reforms cannot be tailor made to handhold opposition parties into power.

Otherwise Dr Dabengwa needs to be commended for accepting that the armed struggle was worth the restoration of the dignity of the oppressed black people.

Source - Bevan Musoko
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