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Zimbabwe can never hold credible elections without leadership being publicly questioned for accountability

22 Jun 2022 at 13:28hrs | Views
This morning I was watching a lively Sky News interview with Dominic Raab, the British Deputy Prime Minister, whereby he was being grilled over many topical issues affecting his country.

As I was glued to the television set, entranced and impressed by such open discussion and debate - particularly, when a leader freely avails himself to public scrutiny by a clearly "hostile" media (since, Sky News is not exactly known for its affection for the governing Conservative Party) - I could not help wondering how any country could earnestly claim to holding credible elections, when those in leadership, or contending for leadership, were not held to such tough interrogation.

When the electorate goes to the polls, they need to be heavily armed, and well-equipped, with indepth understanding of what the various contesting parties and candidates are all about, what they have to offer, and whether they have what it takes to move the country forward.

However, this can never be genuinely achieved if the main political players in the country are seldom brought before public examination - be it through debates, or question and answer sessions open to the general public, or grueling interviews by media houses (especially, those known for being not too fond for the particular party or candidate, who can be trusted with asking the truly tough questions) - so as to bring out these contenders' mantle.

It is pointless and rather ridiculous having, for instance, the ruling ZANU PF and Zimbabwe leader, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, sitting down for an interview with state-controlled media (such as, ZBC, The Herald, or Sunday Mail) since these are known functionaries and mouthpieces of the ruling establishment, and can not be expected to stretch him to the limit in their questioning.

Mnangagwa should actually be a regular guest on private media, as NewsDay, The Independent, NewsHawks, and others - something we admirably witness with Sky News' very frequent invitations to various Tory government officials - where we can expect his leadership to be put to the test.

As a matter of fact, state-owned media needs to focus more on main opposition CCC President, Nelson Chamisa, and other party officials, as their most prominent interviewees - whereby, their party's policies and programs are placed under the microscope.

There can never be genuine accountability when a leader is interviewed by those who are subordinate to him, or are his supporters - who will never be expected to be objective, nor ask those tough questions.

The media, anyway, by its very nature, is supposed to be the so-called "fourth estate" - a hypothetical fourth arm of government, which is expected to exercise checks and balances on the other three: executive, legislature, and judiciary - and, not reduced to a mere parrot and praise-singer of any entity.

Under such a scenario, the people of Zimbabwe are given an opportunity to gather indepth understanding of the various political forces on the country's landscape - as opposed to the current relatively docile and laid back interrogation of those who govern, or seek to govern, over us, which results in the electorate being reduced to meek consumers of one-sided political narratives, without a chance to question.

Nonetheless, when we develop a culture in which our leaders appreciate the imperativeness of accountability, and holding themselves open to public enquiry and examination - that is only when we can expect a knowledgeable electorate, who make decisions based on facts.

This should be a welcome departure from the prevailing untenable situation, whereby voters are led more by blind emotion and fanatical support for a political party or leader - never premised on any real understanding and knowledge of their policies, programs, and abilities.

Under such conditions, we can never truly claim that the election are legitimate or credible.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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