Are we pawns of political mind-games?


THE world of marketing consumer goods holds lessons which we should take note of.

The Last Straw with Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga

In a very engaging seminar about how to keep one’s marriage solid (elusive as it might be) a pastor in our church gave the example of how the makers of consumer goods mess with our minds.

Using the television as an illustration, he asked us if there was any fundamental difference between a TV series such as Generations beamed on a flat screen or on what he termed the old “dolphin” sets, those alesibhono. The answer, of course, was none.

But then manufacturers would want us to believe otherwise. While in the past it took quite a number of years for technology to turn the corner, nowadays a gadget’s attraction takes as long as the appearance of the next big thing.

For instance, when we were still marvelling at the introduction of the flat screen, TV makers came up with the plasma version. That did not last because as we came to grips with that, out came the liquid crystal display (LCD) model which was supposed to have a near-
perfect picture.

When people thought that owning an LCD flat screen television indicated that one had arrived, manufacturers went a notch up and introduced light emitting diode technology.

The simple lesson is that we can never keep up and if one tried, one would end up flat broke or have their mind messed up or both! The same principle can be applied to politics, our current politics to be precise. I have previously warned people reading these pages not to invest too much into our politics as a pointer to how we live our lives and it seems such premium advice has gone unheeded.

The long and short of it is that our lives have been turned upside-down at the whims of politicians. Our minds are messed up as to what to do next. I for one am hopelessly confused. President Robert Mugabe recently used his temporary powers to proclaim the dates of the election everyone is waiting for in compliance of the Constitutional Court ruling of May 31 2013.

MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube (MDC) on the other hand said the President had acted unconstitutionally. The rest of us, as the British say, have our knickers in a knot.

The circumstances and the effects of the whole issue have utterly confounded many, me included. While there is no shadow of doubt that we expect elections to be held in our lifetime, shouldn’t there be a degree of predictability in as far as holding such a ground-breaking plebiscite is concerned?

But no, our politicians are playing mind-hockey with our collective conscience where nothing is couched in certainty. For if it were, one side would be giving away valuable points to the other. The cloudier the situation the better for point-scoring. Now if this amazes you then you must be an alien of the extra-terrestrial kind. This is Zimbabwe my friend.

Even scenario planners have been caught flat-footed, the worst case playing itself out in three-dimensional reality. We were headed for elections by the end of July and the fact that a number of conditions agreed to in the Global Political Agreement have not been fulfilled did not seem to matter much to Mugabe and Zanu PF.

For some it seemed as if elections were now being held for their own sake only because a fellow citizen had exercised his constitutional right ahead of the rest of us. We should applaud the constitutional democracy that we have installed, so we are implored. Anything else will be in contempt.

Yet as a citizen, I still had questions that desperately needed answers. What then would happen to the mandatory voter education, registration and inspection of the roll that the same Constitution guarantees with fixed timelines? And for good a reason too, the idea being that no one should be excluded from the process.

In the haste to conform to the Constitutional Court judgment, weren’t we running the danger of obstructing those who could be left out their fundamental and constitutional right to choose the leaders of their choice?

Weren’t we setting ourselves up for another disputed election leading to a negotiated outcome?

If the answers to all these questions border on the affirmative, then people would be asking what the point of all this rigmarole was in the first place!

A flurry of lawsuits are already flying thick and fast challenging both the Constitutional Court judgment and the presidential proclamation.

Citizens are exercising their constitutional right to disagree with the proclamation of elections that are being held when the situation on the ground clearly points to a process that has caught many, the government included, ill-prepared.

Why, some ask, can’t they just cut the bull, extend the life of the unity government and stop messing with our minds? If this is not ibhola egangeni (bhora musango) I don’t know what it is quite honestly.

Lenox Mhlanga is a social commentator