Independent candidates are an unnecessary burden on our polity: I believe Rich Chimba is Fadzi Mahere in disguise

 

By Mutsa Murenje

This tractate is a response directed primarily to one Richard Chimba whom I believe was a fictitious character created by Fadzayi Mahere to conceal and mask her own involvement in the authorship of the so-called reply to Mutsa Murenje published on Nehanda Radio a few days ago. I happen to have gone through copious manuscripts to be able to identify writing styles by different authors.

I have no iota of doubt in my mind that the author concerned was one of the two persons mentioned in my original treatise titled ‘Independent candidates, political smorgasbord and the task at hand’. Although several publications stuck to the original title I gave to the article, it however appeared on Nehanda Radio with a slightly different title though the contents remained unchanged. It was in response to this article that Fadzayi Mahere aka Richard Chimba coined her reply. I would like to state that the article itself has generated a rancorous political debate.

This has happened not only on Nehanda Radio but also on the Zim Social Workers group that I belong to on WhatsApp. Because of the topical nature of the issue I addressed and subsequently the debate that ensued, I went against my brother’s advice to not respond to the matter and rather focus on informing the public on matters of national importance.

I had shared with him (my brother) the reply alluded to above and I sensed that he had been aggrieved on my behalf. I don’t consider this, my response, to be a distraction and a costly waste of time. I believe it contains essential facts and truths that enlighten the citizenry especially in view of the much-talked about elections expected to be held in Zimbabwe in 2018. I have been thinking about my own role and involvement in the said elections but it appears that our being denied the diaspora vote is a battle best addressed by political parties.

As I was thinking of what to write in this response, I thought about how much I would need to travel to Zimbabwe to register and to vote in 2018. I estimated that I would need at least Six thousand Australian dollars (AUD 6000). Should democracy come at such a cost? I sincerely believed that we had a new constitution that compelled us to consolidate democratic principles. It appears as if I was mistaken. We seriously need to look at this closely and perchance this could be one area where political reforms are requisite.

It is in my nature to divagate, that’s a writing style that I am developing as I am trying to, in the near future, come up with an autobiography but not ‘a bigoted autobiography’ as Chimba would want us to believe. There can be no doubt whatsoever that I am a product of certain biological and environmental circumstances. These are distinct circumstances that mayn’t necessarily compare to those of any other person. We are all unique.

That’s the principle of individualisation that I learnt in my social work with individuals. To therefore equate the inclusion of personal information, which in actual fact was a context for the treatise, to a bigoted autobiography is to me a gratuitous insult by those vying for political power in Zimbabwe and yet with only a bookish acquaintance to our material circumstances as a people. This battle isn’t for the privileged classes.

There are millions of Zimbabweans who care less about the education we have received and whose greatest need is a radical change to their circumstances. If we seek to change their lives then we ought to have a comprehensive grasp of the political environment in which we operate. As John Fitzgerald Kennedy rightly observed, we need to come to a point where we consider “… education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” It was against this backdrop that I advocated for political unity instead of further fragmenting our divided opposition.

It isn’t the first time that we have had independent candidates and it certainly won’t be the last time. What I intended to impress on my readers and still intend to right now is that those who achieved some success as independent candidates did so ostensibly because of the overwhelming support that they received from the people on the ground and other political parties. Examples that quickly come to mind would include Margaret Dongo, Jonathan Moyo and last but not by any means least, Themba Mliswa.

However, these are in the minority. We know in painful detail that our post-colonial struggle for a free, just and democratic Zimbabwe has been replete with mysterious injustices and frustrations. A quintessence of this would be that of Simba Makoni who in 2008 decided to ‘exercise his democratic right’ and vie for the presidency of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The result of that action was that Makoni succeeded in denying the only formidable opposition party that Zimbabwe has known the much-needed win thereby further blocking the blocked transition to democracy in Zimbabwe. It is because of this historical fact and reality that I proffered that independent candidates were an unnecessary burden on a polity such as ours.

Indeed, independent candidates waste our time in addition to them being also quite divisive at a time when unity of all oppositional forces is paramount. Without doubt, we have a buffet of different political entities and leaders trying to gain political power and influence in Zimbabwe. The one question that I pondered was whether new political entrants would change the political dynamics and add value to political discourse in our country. When I sat down and penned the now viral piece, I had already answered that Fadzayi Mahere and Nkosana Moyo would not have the political clout required to wrestle power and the space currently occupied by Zimbabwe’s official opposition, let alone ZANU PF’s political dominance. As a result, the duo’s participation would only make sense if they worked with established political players. This was and still is my standpoint. I have no regrets that I said that. In fact, this did not suggest that the two couldn’t go ahead and contest independent of other political players, I also gave due recognition of their inherent right to take part in the government of their country either directly or indirectly through their freely chosen representatives.

In my writing history, I have never come across the abuse of readers by writers. Readers always choose what to read and what not to read based on time at their disposal and also the interest they have in the subject under discussion. We would therefore do well if we stopped thinking for our informed readers through our misguided advocacy. I want it known that I write for moral reasons and not for self-interest. I have an income from my professional work and not my writings. As I see it, this is my unselfish concern for the welfare of all Zimbabweans because Zimbabwe did a lot for me. I mayn’t be able to pay what she invested in me but the least I can do surely is to fight for a Zimbabwe that we all can be proud of. I wouldn’t want to be associated with divisive and tribal politics.

In conclusion, I have a comprehensive grasp of our political terrain and my reading of that terrain has since been corroborated by other writers, most notably Tinashe Chimedza and Tamuka Chirimambowa who wrote in their essay entitled ‘Zimbabwe’s complex balance of forces: Thinking beyond the cosmopolitans’ that: “… our intellectual cosmopolitans will need more than a ‘bookish’ acquaintance with the African political economy.” I believe the likes of Mahere and Moyo only have a bookish acquaintance with our politics.

They won’t succeed where others failed hence my suggestion that they should consider fighting from a common political corner such as ours. I hope they will imbibe the following words by the Dalai Lama, “What’s past is past, nothing can change that. But the future can be different if we choose to make it so. We have to cultivate a vision of a happier, more peaceful future and make the effort now to bring it about. This is no time for complacency, hope lies in the action we take.” May God help Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!