Civil society must claim space

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THE shocking, dramatic and sometimes confusing political situation in Zimbabwe is in dire need of a sane perspective.

In a series of events that could have been taken from a Shakespearean dramatic tragedy: Which began with the reshuffling of the Cabinet after elections by the ruling executive, included the exposure of obscene salaries earned by parastatal chiéfs aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru faction.

First Lady Grace Mugabe acrimoniously entering the field of politics, has culminated in the callous ousting of former VP and some Zanu PF party big wigs from government, has left the Zimbabwean political scene dangerously poised and the stability of the country is on the edge of a knife.

While on the other side, the MDC (caucus in whatever form) which showed signs of decline prior to the 2013 general elections, has all but imploded in similar chaotic fashion as their sworn enemies.

Didymus Mutasa
Didymus Mutasa

What does this mean for the average Zimbabwean? The outlook is very bleak. The first observation is that Zimbabweans’ are unrepresented, the politicians are currently completely immersed in either vicious political cannibalism or desperate political survival.

An example is Didymus Mutasa’s alleged letter of no confidence in the Zanu PF congress that showed no confidence in him and his cliqué.

Issues of grave importance such as the implementation of the new constitution, resuscitating the crashing economy, and rebuilding failing health, education, and transport infrastructure, have been sidelined.

Amidst this political mayhem the civil society is conspicuous in its absence. Human rights, advocacy and governance groups seem to have lost the influence they had prior to the 2013 elections, for a number of reasons.

Chief among the reasons is that during the Government of National Unity era the major political players were the three principles to the Global Political Agreement agreement and as a result many non government organisations ceded crucial public space to political parties.

Large sections of civil society had aligned themselves with political parties, either by choice our out of necessity, and lost their own credible voices to political processes and issues of national interest.

Now having noticed that civil society has either implicitly or complacently handed over the mandate to promote the people’s needs to power hungry politicians, who have everything but the people’s needs at heart, this is a call for bona fide rights and governance groups to make an effective contribution to the current sociopolitical narrative.

An urgent need is ensuring that the prevailing political chaos does not create a power vacuum once the presidency is vacated. There must be sincere dialogue between civil society, business interests, politicians and the security chiefs to ensure that violent civil unrest does not erupt as a result of the clamouring for the top seats in government that is likely to ensue if there is an unmanaged sudden change.

What is needed is a peaceful sensible transition that puts the concerns, welfare and safety of people as a priority. In pre and post-independence most meaningful political movements in Zimbabwe have been born out of civil society realising a socio-political need and organizing to meet that need.

Zimbabwe is suffering from an acute leadership crisis, civil society must realise this need and organise to remedy it, out of an unwavering love for justice, development and liberty; and not as a shrewd means to ascending to power themselves.

Methembeni Moyo Bulawayo, Zimbabwe methembenimoyo@yahoo.com