By Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
MOST, or at least many, of 112 Zimbabwe’s political parties registered will field candidates in the projected harmonised elections expected in July and some of those organisations will be offering the electorate nothing more than their self-seeking candidates.
At the time of writing this article, not much had been publicised about most of those parties except for ZANU PF and the MDC-Alliance.
It is most likely that many of those aspiring political parties will try to use the tribal strategy as is the obvious case with newly formed New Patriotic Front (NPF) of Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri.
That organisation is using the politically discredited argument that former president Robert Mugabe was unconstitutionally kicked out of the national presidency by a pro-Emmerson Mnangagwa military group last November, and that it stands for constitutionalism.
There is a strong emotional Zezuru versus Karanga undertone in the politico-psychological process that resulted in the formation of that organisation.
The election campaign will most likely assume a highly regionalistic, if not tribalistic, character for the little known parties without a recognised historical background, which is an important reference point.
A similar development has already emerged in Matabeleland North Province’s Victoria Falls area where several aspiring MDC-T officials have recently been purged from that organisation.
Zimbabwe’s current administrative provinces were delineated by the colonial administration some years before the country was liberated in 1980.
The colonial provincial delineation was based more or less on ethnic lines, hence the names Manicaland, Matabeleland and Mashonaland provinces.
The only provinces that were given names without any ethnic connotation were Masvingo and the Midlands.
Appealing to tribal or racial sentiments is a primitive political technique applicable to communities whose understanding of party politics does not differentiate between policy-based and regional-ethnic-based politics.
In any case, Zimbabwe’s demographics show that first and foremost, the vast majority of the country’s 15 million or so people are Bantu (vanhu, banhu, batho, antu), and that most of those banhu vanhu, antu are of the group generically referred to as the Shonas.
That group has intermarried with other Bantu, batho, antu communities in the past couple of centuries and a very strong blood relationship runs right through and across the entire country.
Migration over many decades has also resulted in several clans being found in as scattered regions as Karoi, Beitbridge, Deka, Dombodema, Tokwana, Hhingwe, Nopemano, Madabe and Ntabazinduna, among others.
That is the case with the Nleya people (BaLeya) whose male honorific title is ‘Mundambeli’, or ‘Mwendamberi’ as they are referred to in Karoi and other Mashonaland West parts.
Communities of the Mpofu totem are found right across every part of Zimbabwe; in fact throughout Botswana and South Africa as well.
Those of the Gumbo totem feature predominantly in the Masvingo Province but have large communities also in several Matabeleland districts such as Bulilima, Lupane and, of course, very much in some parts of Mashonaland West, particularly at Kutama.
The totem is found literally all over Zimbabwe, so is the ‘Hhowu’, ‘Zhou’, ‘Ndou’, ‘Ndlovu’ or ‘Tlou’ totem.
The Hungwe totem people found predominantly in the Masvingo Province are the ‘Nyoni’ clan in Matabeleland and the Midlands, and the Shiri and Shirihuru clans in various Mashonaland provinces, especially Mashonaland East.
The late Chief Jeremiah Chirau used to relate that he was in fact a descendant of a Nguni warrior of the Mafu (Nkonjeni) totem. He said his great-great-grandfather was one of Mzilikazi’s warriors who were sent to raid parts of what is now Mashonaland West Province.
He was injured in a battle against some Zezuru or Korekore warriors who were defending their communities.
When Mzilikazi’s warriors returned to what is now Matabeleland, the injured warrior could not cope with the speed of the group and decided to hide in the bush where he was later found by local Shona people who nursed him back to good health.
They changed his totem from the Nguni Mafu (Nkonjeni) to Chirau, a Shona word which means something to do with either weapons or warfare.
Another interesting piece of information is about many Manicaland clans such as the Sigauke and the Mutambanengwe who are in fact originally Nguni clans of the Nxumalo and Sithole totems respectively.
Intelligent people will thus refuse to be divided into several hostile groups by selfish, power-hungry politicians whose organisations have absolutely no policies except to seek and grab power for their own personal ends.
Zimbabwe emerged from such a situation about five months ago and should now certainly not be plunged into a similar predicament.
The country’s tragic past should serve as an experience never to be gone through again — at least not by those who lived it.
Zimbabweans who fought in the liberation struggle and those who were old enough to participate in it in whatever way and to whatever extent know that the struggle was all about giving political power to the masses.
Political power simply means universal adult franchise, that is, one-person-one-vote, in free and unfettered circumstances.
That power should be exercised at the person’s lowest politico-administrative level to the highest, that means from the cell, to the district, to the province and to the national in political terms.
In national electoral terms, it means exercising that power from the municipal ward up to the national constituency level.
Having been given that power by the voters, those so entrusted should proceed to implement their political party’s policy or policies to empower their respective electorates economically, socially, culturally and politically.
Two official documents are usually issued to the public by either independent candidates or political parties during national elections.
One is a party policy document while the other is a manifesto.
Manifestos are public declarations of aims and objectives issued shortly before or during elections, stating short-term development plans and objectives of a candidate or a political party.
A policy is a set of principles that guide action proposed by a political organisation if it gets into power.
Policies are usually medium or long-term strategies as compared to manifestos which are generally short-term programmes, usually lasting for the duration of the parliamentary terms.
In Zimbabwe, the eradication of poverty should be the major objective of every councillor and every Member of Parliament (MP) and every senator.
The best approach to poverty eradication is to identify and to create economic opportunities such as the exploitation of natural resources and their utilisation and/or marketing.
Political party economic development policies will necessarily indicate how that could be done, and how each family will benefit thereby.
Manifestos will give details about how, when, where and who will be involved to achieve stated policy objectives.
Social policies are meant to create infrastructure for educational and health services, making them adequate, accessible and affordable.
Sports and recreation fall under this category, but roads, railways, airways and waterways are meant to serve economic, social and cultural projects, programmes and objectives.
A good, well-led political organisation has clearly stated policies on each of these matters and voters should vote according to those policies.
Some sitting councillors, MPs and senators who have been in power for a number of years, even for more than a decade but have nothing to show as an achievement except their weight plus motor vehicles procured ostensibly to assist them to access their respective areas, will have no-one to blame but themselves if they are kicked out.
We do not have to advise voters to replace such non-delivering people.
They are mere self-seekers.
A properly thought-out political party electoral policy deals with the past (national debts), the present, economic, social and other challenges facing the country, and the future, that is, its development plan for the nation.
Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email: email@example.com