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Zimbabweans cannot stomach empty promises

by Moses ChambokoMoses Chamboko
11 April 2018

The season for euphoria and empty promises seems to be upon us. It is that time when politicians say anything that pleases the crowds once they get access to the microphone. It resembles the “unopenga” era of Dr Stop It when she would say anything, including obscenities in front of school children. It is like when ZANU PF promised 2.2 million jobs in 2013 and, instead, thousands of people found themselves on the streets without a job.

Not to be outdone in 2018, some of our friends are now promising intercity bullet trains and rural air services to airlift harvest from fields in rural communities to markets. While there is nothing wrong with having a dream or a vision, what do these promises say about our priorities? If you tell a starving family in Chibwedziva, Binga, Tsholotsho or Bocha that the new government will launch a rocket to the moon within six months of coming into office, do you expect them to make any sense out of it, get excited and vote for you on the basis of that promise?

Zimbabweans cannot stomach empty promises. They need to hear sound policies. In the past, people voted for Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF or Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC without necessarily taking a very close look at what these leaders and their parties had to offer. Their voting choices were informed by blind loyalty and emotion, plus coercion in some cases. With Mugabe’s inglorious departure from office and Tsvangirai’s sad death, our politics has changed, so must our mindsets and our election promises.

If the next elections are indeed going to be free, fair, credible and transparent as we have been told, there is a very good chance that there will not be an outright winner, at least in the first round. While electoral irregularities have been raised in the past, the fact of the matter is that ZANU PF has a solid membership base of people who will vote for them no matter what happens. This number is estimated to be not less than one million and it is a reality that cannot be ignored.

On the other side of politics, MDC has demonstrated that it has a very decent following judging by public displays since February 14 when Tsvangirai passed on. However, there is a difference between members and supporters. It would make sense for the MDC Alliance to also carry out a thorough audit of its membership ahead of the poll just as ZANU PF is doing. They need to know how many of their members are registered to vote nationwide.

In the last four months, we have seen Zimbabweans shifting their political allegiance as if they were changing socks. For some, it takes only a 2 kg bag of Chinese rice for them to change sides while, for others, a good song at a well-attended rally is all it takes. This is a clear demonstration of the volatility of the electorate. Then there are those who do not religiously belong to either side but will be influenced by positive messages and sound policy. This is the segment that may well decide the outcome in 2018.
The coming election must be won on sound policies. So far, neither side of politics has made any serious policy statements. Instead, we have heard only nebulous rallying cries ranging from “We are open for business” to “We will build bullet trains”. These are merely political statements without any substance.

Zimbabweans want to be told exactly how the economy will be revived, where the money will come from and who will underwrite that investment, using what instruments and means?

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