By Abednico Siambombe
Jason Nowaczyk has defined a political party as a group of dedicated people who come together to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy. In modern politics of young democracies, the definitions is limited to winning elections and operating a government than it is determined to public policy.
Maybe a more contingent definition of a political party can be a club where senators, representatives, and the executive spend time dining and drinking, talk and argue in a bid to have answers for the concerns that are not for the people.
Political parties are central features of any democracy in any country who’s responsibility is more convincing citizens to come together to campaign for public office, express their interests and needs, and define their aspirations.
Zimbabwe is one country that has politicians who have a common goal of manufacturing parties than that which they should perform.
Political parties in Zimbabwe are crafted and some survive the purges by the ruling party whereas others die a sudden death after elections.
Currently Zimbabwe has approximately more than twenty political parties which this essay seeks to analyse and evaluate their existence in the political system of Zimbabwe.
Political parties have multifarious responsibilities, duties and purpose they should save in the society. These functions are however limited by the human ambition of occupying cloud five in the society. Zimbabwe like any other African country is in a vogue race of multiplying and adding to the already existing political parties in the political arena.
However, the question comes to whether a political change or change of leadership or democracy descend upon a tumbling society on such multiplications. Since the attainment of independence, Zimbabwe have produced an average limit of not below twenty political parties of which some have become dormant and only submerge during the electoral campaigns or during registration for presidential candidature.
The only disgusting thing in this Zimbabwean race of political party making is the failure of the political leaders to having principles, ideology and a vision for their country. First and for most, the purpose of a ruling party is to take control of the opposing small parties and ensure the enforcement of constitutionalism.
With Zimbabwe, the ruling elite is much concerned of intimidating, initiating violence and advocating for conservatism since the populations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the late 90s. Zimbabwe is too small a country when compared to the self-proclaiming democratic states like the United States of America which has two rivalry parties with the additional weak and non-vibrant Green Party.
This implies that the ruling party should have instilled a common purpose in the political system in which there could have been an establishment of three or two parties for the purpose of convincing the electoral results which are always disputed due to the dilutions of these spontaneous irrelevant mafia parties.
Though people have enshrined in the supreme law the desire to have a freedom of political association, the same law I’m convinced is mistaken when practically considering the political parties on the ground.
This comes as a result of the failure of the new parties to bring afore what has been failed by the already existing parties. Such ambiguous moves can be classified as personal politics for the purpose of sucking the donor funds, the members’ subscriptions and a zest of winning fame as other people are always in the shadows of the democratic cloud.
In addition to the above, Zimbabwe’s parties are formed out of anger and failure of civilisation. A good case study is Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Welshman Ncube and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) for Mujuru Joyce which all sprouted out of ultimate lack of political control and misogyny.
The dubious stance taken by Tendai Biti has left many Zimbabweans astounded after a not long fractious birth of MDC for Ncube from Tswangirai. Most of the sited reasons for the formation of these parties are high sounding nothing from empty vessels.
This is demised by the quest of these sprouted parties to unite against the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanupf). If their common goal was to remove Zanupf, then why have they branched off into many political brands and labels? The self-driving ego have enabled Zanupf to rebuild and gain momentum time and again although it is also a victim of continued factionalism.
Politically, parties need to develop common ideas in order to exert pressure upon the political system and help place citizens’ local concerns in a national context. However, Zimbabwe’s political parties are divided over interests, leaders, or policies; and fail to organize these differences to create room for compromise and helping societies to unite.
Such jackass pollinations are evidenced in every seasonal election by the eruption of violence and sometimes a threat of an outbreak of war as in the 2000s when Tsvangirai was alleged to be in possession of a standing army ready to overhaul Mugabe and his Zanupf old boys.
In a multi-party systems like Zimbabwe, political parties often express conflicting viewpoints on public policy as has been in the case of the Indigenisation and Zimasset policies respectively.
These differences of opinion are not only an important part of the democratic process, but an exchange which has helped in the generation of confusion and continued failure to have solutions to the economy which is shrinking at every brink and wink.
Further, these newly formed parties present themselves as the alternative government as they have their own shadow governments, they pressurize voters when choosing incumbents who can better address their public interests. This is openly magnified by Simba Makoni’s Mavambo Kusile which shared votes with Tsvangirai in 2008 harmonised elections against Mugabe’s Zanupf making it difficult for MDC to attain the required 53% to be proclaimed a winner.
Political parties in Zimbabwe have multiplied at an alarming rate due to the fact that they appoint people for public office and while political parties do this, they end up endorsing or supporting individual candidates who share very similar ideals and political positions of the entire party. This loosens democracy as Muamar Gaddafi has defied such representative form of democracy which limit the choice of the people in the guise for the few.
Such is not the promotion of democracy but can be termed as malicious desires for individuals who have personal interests in the expense of public office. Once such people put their booty in the office, calamity and lamentation in society is heard high above the heavens.
Of course no one in Zimbabwe would like to forget how Chombo has proven this by acquiring a bunch of stands when common voters have nowhere to put their heads, Kasukuwere is currently gobbling the corrupted finances from the sales of stands, and his co-compatriot Jonathan Moyo has caused tremendous mayhem on ZIMDEF and made headlines in newspapers, social media and a talk of the year like the Hollywood Tom Cruise.
Although political parties in Zimbabwe have to put forth their own policies and oppose the winning party, when appropriate, if they do not win an elections, they purposively promote unhealthy debates which are meant to destroy the state than to build it.
This can be justified by Evans Mawarire’s ‘shut down Zimbabwe’ movement which has costed the country just in anxiety to oust the seating president. Such false impressions are not justified when the economy is tumbling and there is cry for a foothold. Newly formed parties have committed themselves to fighting the government that to suggesting solutions to their cries as has been in Edward Miliband and David Cameroon House of Commons debates which are so constructive.
While Zimbabwe’s politicians continue to long for multiparty system, the need for a two party system is more favourable to create economic growth. This helps get people absorbed in the contest between two opposing parties as experienced in the 2000 and 2005 when people were much concerned with MDC and Zanupf. This is advantageous for the government to concentrate resources to a limited number of parties and development minds are clubbed together which means the vision of state development is at privilege.
NERA as an alternative for the opposing parties, should be designed in a manner that can enable the emerging leaders to potentially swallow their pride, have a common interest, consider state development more than personifying politics and this party should have engineers who are more ideal and not cantered on the mentality of ousting Mugabe, but a sustainable ideology that can establish a fervent future for the coming generations.
Therefore, Zimbabweans should learn from the previous mistakes that democracy does not come by multiplying the numbers of parties but by serving the public efficiently, effectively and with utmost faith.
Democracy has encountered political shocks each time a new party is formed in Zimbabwe, hence maintaining the already available and refurbishing them is the way to the journey’s end for the opposing parties.
Abednico Siambombe is a Politics and Public Management Student at Midlands State University, Zimbabwe