By Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu
THE decision by the ruling ZANU PF to enter into a dialogue with 17 political parties about how best to administer the country is a historic step in the right direction.
All the parties involved participated in the last harmonised elections, and presented some plans or programmes about how they would govern Zimbabwe if they won.
This multi-party dialogue is an opportunity for each one of them to contribute ideas to the national body politic, particularly on how to breathe some life into various aspects of Zimbabwe economy.
Many people wrongly believe that the most important responsibility of a Member of Parliament, that of the Senate, as well as that of a council is to attend meetings of those august institutions.
While we certainly acknowledge that such meetings are important in the formulation and passage of laws and by-laws on behalf of constituencies or wards, the most important role of MPs, Senators and councillors is to develop the areas they represent.
Development of an area is always multi-dimensional; economic, social, cultural and political, in that order.
The most important of people’s needs are economic as they represent food, a need without which the human body cannot live. Next in importance to food are clothing, bedding and accommodation.
All these needs involve economics, that is the production and distribution of wealth.
Every community depends on the economy for its basic survival.
MPs, senators and councillors who do not prioritise economic development in their areas should be replaced by those who can.
Social development involves service centres or institutions such as clinics, hospitals, schools, dip-tanks, bus routes, public roads, railway as well as air and water means of transport.
Entertainment is also a human social need for which facilities should be provided, and those facilities comprise sports stadia, swimming pools, tennis courts, recreation halls and others.
Beerhalls and bottle stores are controversial socio-economic amenities in that what they sell and the services they offer contribute to communities’ economic, social and moral degeneration and disintegration.
Modern, progressive MPs, senators and councillors do not initiate or promote the establishment of any of those facilities in an area they represent.
Some highly respectable traditional historical leaders such as Khama The Great of the BaMangwato of Botswana prohibited the public sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in his territory.
A nation cannot progress by large scale selling and consuming of alcoholic beverages, nor can a community advance professionally, intellectually or morally by fraternising with regular consumers of alcoholic beverages.
MPs, senators and councillors have a national responsibility to be models to the communities they lead.
Cultural religious development in Zimbabwe is inclined either towards traditionalism, or it is influenced by Judaic-Christian doctrines.
Educationally, the Zimbabwean nation belongs to the Graeco-Romano-Anglo cultural cluster because of its former 90-year-long British (Anglo) colonial historical background.
The country’s current religious trend, especially predominantly youth-led Pentecostal churches, highlights economic prosperity, something every political leader should also be doing since the nation’s future belongs much more to the youth than to the middle-aged and the elderly.
Zimbabwe’s political development is not problematic because of the country’s armed liberation struggle history.
We need not dwell at length on the relative importance to various Zimbabwean communities of this development aspect.
However, we need to look at the attitudes of various Zimbabwean political representatives, particularly those in councils and National House of Assembly.
At the very top are those with much party authority, whose leadership role is clearly recognised.
They guide the councils or Parliament since they generate opinion on a number of matters of national value and/or interest.
Such leaders have an obvious part to play in the recently launched multi-party dialogue because what they say carries much weight throughout the country.
Cabinet ministers and their deputies fall under this category.
The second group are those with senior party, but no council or parliamentary, positions, let alone authority. Their membership of such a body as the multi-party dialogue would not add much weight to that forum’s decisions.
The last class of political party representatives are those whose party authority is found no higher than at district level. Their inclusion in a national multi-party dialogue body could lower its public esteem.
That does not mean or imply, however, that such MPs, senators and councillors are of no consequence to the nation, nor are appointed MPs and senators.
They are as of much importance as their respective wards or constituencies are to the entire nation.
We need to note that every ward or constituency has its own unique demographic characteristics that may include the size of the population, gender ratio, ages and level of education. It may have people who exhibit traditional or modern cultural traits and may have abundance or lack of economic opportunities or development, dynamic social cohesion and with high or low moral values.
These are factors each councillor, MP and senator has to consider in the process of designing a development programme for his or her area, but all the time bearing in mind that a community’s economic development must always be prioritised; that is what the multi-party dialogue would be most strongly advised to do — prioritsation of national economic development.
Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. firstname.lastname@example.org