In the run-up to the March 26 by-elections, political parties ignored the plight of suffering Zimbabweans, as they focused more on gaining power, Professor Jonathan Moyo has said.
Prof Moyo, a former cabinet minister and political analyst, said daily, Zimbabwe is defined by concerns over livelihood issues but the political parties missed this, as they focused on gaining power than coming up with solutions to help the majority of suffering citizens.
“Zimbabwe’s self-interpretation is defined by complaints or quarrels over life and livelihood issues, the everyday life of the overwhelmingly majority is bedevilled by hunger, homelessness, joblessness,” he said while addressing a public lecture on ‘After the by-elections, whither Zanu PF, CCC and MDC T/ MDC A ahead of the 2023 general elections,’ in a twitter space titled Uncensored hosted by Mzala Tom, Thursday.
Prof Moyo alluded to a World Bank study that was published last year, that said some 7.9 million Zimbabweans live on less than US$1.90 per day and are classified as extremely poor.
“Look at various sources that approximately some 70 percent of the Zimbabwean population survives on less than US$5.50 a day and half of our population live below the food poverty line. Of course, we are in census year and we will find out soon how many Zimbabweans there are but most of them live on $5.50 a day,” he said.
“Also apart from food challenges, these have no roof over their head and about four million Zimbabwean children are in chronic hunger.”
Using this to state his case, Prof Moyo, indicated that except for “intermittent outburst on social media platforms and perfunctory statements made on special occasions” by political leaders and others in civic society organisations plus churches, they did not touch on the livelihood of people.
“The livelihood plight of three quarters of Zimbabweans, which is very easy to summarise and even quantify because it is a livelihood matter, is not part of the daily debates in Zimbabwe in the electronic, print or digital media platforms,” he lamented.
“The trending topics usually have nothing to do with this alarming situation where three-quarters of the population’s livelihood is threatened on a daily basis, where people are living from hand to mouth without any assistance.”
Elsewhere in the civilized world, Prof Moyo said the politics or quarrel debates, would be about this situation of the country where 75 percent of the population was living in poverty.
“As a government or ruling party that’s who you should be concerned about, you should not be tweeting about this other nonsense that we see…When people drill a borehole, they call the whole world, when they put a footbridge, they want everyone to come and see but they never say the borehole or footbridge is contributing to the alleviation of the livelihood of the 75 percent of the population,” said the political analyst.
“If you are leading a country with 75 percent of the population in this kind of existential quandary, surely you would expect that to be the primary focus of your politics. Similarly, if you are in the opposition that should be the base of your politics. That’s where the manifesto should be focused on.”
Prof Moyo explained he was raising this as the March 26 by-election campaign, which many said smirked of a mini general election, was “not in any way, shape or form focused on the livelihoods of the 75 percent of Zimbabweans.”
“There was nothing about that. It was about the leaders and in some cases the leaders did not mind saying, ‘we know there are local authority or constituency elections here but that’s not important for now, what is important is for us to put our eyes on the prize and the prize is 2023.’ You can imagine how meaningful it would be, if you are thinking about 2023 where 75 percent of the people are finding it difficult to make ends meet,” he said.
The political parties, noted Prof Moyo, claimed the by-elections were a dress rehearsal for 2023 but he argued: “We didn’t see the dress, let alone the rehearsal in terms of the existential challenges that make up 75 percent of the population. So, what was the campaign about, how does it relate to the forthcoming general elections if it was not about lives and livelihood.”
He indicated that such politics without understanding the needs of a community was “dangerous.”
“It is dangerous in politics to be self-indulgent but needs must be informed by societies,” Prof Moyo said.
“In the end politics is not about what you are against or who you are against, it is about what you are for and who you are for because what you are for should resonate with who you are for in order to have a meeting of minds, touch hearts and minds of people. If you always churn out anecdotes from left to right you will end up as the audience.”
The 75 percent of Zimbabwean population, said Prof Moyo, “are the excluded people out there whose votes you desperately need.”
“The by-elections in so far as they were presented as a mini general election missed the boat, they ended up missing a critical context,” he noted.