Home » Governance » The Flux in Zimbabwe’s Political Spaces

The political spectrum in Zimbabwe has blurry definitions, hence a state of what seems to be uncertainty, intra-party and inter-party variations of views. There are a lot of movements occurring at the centre from both parties and hence the switching and the waiting games. Any political party is made up of millions of members and has thousands in its leadership ranks. The party vision is an expression of the sum of all its component parts.

Each and every member has a vision many visions and their visions may run in the opposition direction of the party. The key though is that when members join the party, they then automatically subscribe to the collective vision of that party.

Individual visions may be considered but they do not replace the collective vision. There is no exception to the rule: there can never be exceptions, for that is when weaknesses are bestowed upon the party.

The decision by the ruling party to back the winning candidate Terrence Mukupe in Harare East is bold and decisive and brings about clarity and consistency.

This is about collective vision, the collective strength of the polity and a true reflection of the voters’ preferences.

Ideology plays an important part in any party and that party’s positioning on the country’s political spectrum. Electoral competition is often based on an ideology that appeals to those voters who float at the centre of the spectrum. The centre of the political spectrum in Zimbabwe is that space that falls between Zanu-pf and the MDC. The question is, is there such a space? Which party represents that space?

The ruling party puts its main thrust as valuing tradition, equitable distribution of the national cake, economic freedom and though unsaid, the principle of survival of the fittest.

Worldwide right-wing politics uphold the belief that business should not be regulated and that people should look after themselves.

Zanu-PF’s main ideological thrust is economic freedom to enable people to succeed, to be the owners of the means of production and be able to look after themselves as opposed to being permanently dependent.

The right-wing view is, if you have more money, then you should keep it and buy better services for yourself, the belief is that business should not be regulated and that the more money the business earn, then the more benefits to the country as a whole. The ruling party’s manifesto from the 2013 election was clear on ‘taking back the economy, indigenisation, empowerment, development and creation of employment’.

The essence of Zanu-PF’s ideology is to “economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe by enabling them to fully own their country’s God-given natural resources and the means of production to unlock or create value from those resources”. The key words to note in this ideological statement are ‘enabling’ and “unlocking”.

Indigenisation and empowerment are meant to enable and unlock that potential to learn, to earn and create employment. Zanu-PF speaks in terms of “collective national aspirations” and one of the fundamental right-wing values is the belief in the freedom to succeed rather than equality for its own sake.

The ruling party upholds traditional values and condemns such practices as homosexuality and upholds the death penalty.

The opposition’s main message is about jobs and food on the table and the ruling party has always questioned how they are going to create jobs without empowering people to start businesses, which in turn will create more jobs. Left wing politics puts emphasis on regulating big business so as to save the interests of the majority and that is a commendable value.

One could argue that the ruling party’s land reform is regulation but then the counter argument would be that correcting a historical wrong is not regulation but rather a requirement and necessity. Right wing politics is often associated with elitism or the privileged label.

The ruling party’s manifesto and party constitution seek to promote a brand of assertive nationalism, a distinctive Zimbabwean culture and the need to reassure the people of their traditions and beliefs without sounding too authoritarian or too prescriptive.

A common outcry from the opposition in Zimbabwe is their belief that the rich should not be rich whilst others are poor and that incomes from the rich should be redistributed so that others are well off as well.

The ruling party argues that people should be empowered to start businesses, to own businesses and the business owner should enjoy the fruits of their hard work. If one looks at the developed economies of today, their capitalist systems were developed on the back of the theory of survival of the fittest, on right wing value systems. Alexander Hamilton in the USA was clear on the need for government protection and promotion of domestic industry against competition.

It is the centre of the political spectrum in Zimbabwe is uncertain, unstable and woolly to have a permanent space.

The balancing act of rewarding those who do well and creating a fair and equal society is what makes the centre way too unpredictable. These are the same individuals who go wherever the wind blows.

The “moderates” in a traditional party like Zanu-PF have a more of a g ideological affinity to the left of centre because a ‘centre’ space does not exactly exist in Zimbabwean politics and the centre itself is not exactly a coherent ideological space.

There is a ruling party and an opposition in Zimbabwe.

The ruling party is prone to weaknesses owing to such individuals who believe that they have a vision far greater than the vision of the party itself.

The fact of the matter is that everyone has a vision but the core of any polity is defined by the central idea as agreed by the whole polity. Everything else is just a weakness.

The ruling Zanu-PF as enshrined in its manifesto and party constitution is the central vision and there can never be any deviation from that without the go ahead from the polity.

Agreed is the fact that most parties sometimes move to the centre especially during election years and this is often driven by fundamental motivation of politicians to attain power.

The demarcation of voter preferences in Zimbabwe is based on ideology.

The electorate will go with the candidate who will conceivably bring them more benefit.

The primary motivation of politicians is to attain power and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes when the primary motivation becomes solely to attain proceeds, prestige and power, which comes with being in power.

People vote for a particular party if they consider that its policies or ideology has potential to bring the greatest gains.

The electorate is a rational being and would vote for a party they consider would bring them the greatest benefit. The fact that the ruling party keeps winning elections means that voters see more benefits being derived from their policies than anyone else in the opposition.

The electorate desires uninterrupted streams of benefits from government action, voters want roads constructed, potholes repaired, street lights working, they want to feel safe, they want constant and clean water supplies, uninterrupted power supplies, rubbish collected timely, clean streets and so on.

From an electorate point of view the centre is a comfortable zone and gives them options.

Source : The Herald

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