By Dr Rino Zhuwarara
AS the 2018 general elections approach, it is becoming more evident by the day that the choice before us as the electorate will be clear-cut in many respects.
We should take advantage of this clarity in so far as it will assist us to vote wisely – that is, notwithstanding the fact that so far, about 128 political parties have registered to contest for political power during the forthcoming harmonised elections.
The following observations underline why the task to choose our next Government may turn out to be an easy one after all!
First: We should not feel overwhelmed by the unusually high number of political parties which have registered to contest.
Most of these parties are sprouting everywhere every day and are difficult to remember anyway.
Ironically the emergence of all these parties is a good indication that the general political environment for democratic processes to take root now exist in our country.
For the 2018 general elections, however, the real contest will be between ZANU PF on one side and the various MDC formations on the other.
Because they have the necessary party structures on the ground on a countrywide basis and the experience of having gone through several general elections before.
Our expectation is that MDC formations themselves will not fragment further into tiny splinter groups such as MDC-Chamisa, MDC-Khupe, MDC-Mudzuri, MDC-Mwonzora, MDC-Biti, MDC-Ncube and MDC-Tsvangirai, among others.
Second: Regarding these two parties, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the face of a rejuvenated ZANU PF while Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe are the two faces representing the main MDC political formations.
While these two have taken each other to court over the use of MDC-T as a name for each of their factions, it is prudent to focus on Chamisa since he has been campaigning in many parts of the country recently.
As an electorate, we now have an inkling of what his ideas are and, hopefully, a hint on what his vision could be.
We are yet to get ideas regarding Khupe.
President Mnangagwa represents ZANU PF, a party which has acquitted itself very well as the party which successfully prosecuted the armed struggle and brought about the independence which we all enjoy today.
He himself is a war veteran who not only fought in the liberation struggle but also a seasoned political cadre who has handled many ministerial portfolios before.
He has been involved in statecraft for long and knows what need to be done in order to develop Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, Chamisa has just graduated into an adult, barely 40 years old and a new comer to the political scene.
Because of his youthful age, his depth of knowledge about Zimbabwe and its history maybe limited and understandably, still to grow to meaningful levels.
The same applies to the breadth of his knowledge about many things in many areas of our existence as a nation.
In a sense, therefore, we have two candidates vying for the highest office in the land; one of them, an experienced, tested politician and administrator, while the other is an extremely ambitious youth driven by an unquenchable lust for power that is too obvious for most people not to notice.
The challenge for us is simple: Has he matured well-enough for us to heap more responsibilities upon his slender shoulders?
Third: In regard to vision about the Zimbabwe we want, it is evident President Mnangagwa is determined to transform Zimbabwe into a middle-income country by 2030.
His strategy to achieve this vision is a logical one and is partly based on the just completed Land Reform Programme.
He is determined to transform the agricultural sector into a vibrant modern agricultural industry which in turn will assist us to resuscitate and expand radically the manufacturing sector, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
He has specific ideas on how to ramp up production in the mining sector and on how to add value to the many minerals which our country is blessed with.
His over-arching objective is to bring in as much Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as soon as possible, re-ignite the economy and catch up with the rest of our neighbouring countries in regard to development.
This developmental trajectory explains why he is vigorously re-engaging the international community and inviting potential investors to take up business opportunities which exist in our country.
On the other hand, Chamisa has been holding many rallies all over the country preaching the gospel of bullet trains shooting their way up and down the country at breathtaking speeds which we have not witnessed before in this land of ours.
The same applies to the many highways he talks about; many running over or on top of each other, others running alongside many others, while many zoom into and out of the many cities and towns of our beautiful country.
The only problem is that he has so far forgotten to tell us what these bullet trains and rails will be ferrying, and why at such supersonic speeds!
To achieve what?
He has been promising to build all these super highways and railways, including home-based airports all over the place!
According to the logic of Chamisa’s gospel, many aeroplanes will be availed to airlift all and sundry of our rural folk and take them to the cities where they are expected to take up the many jobs which his party will create as soon as he gets into power.
It is as if he is determined to depopulate the rural areas on a wholesale scale, partly because his definition of progress and development seems to be urban-centred and not rural.
It is not surprising that, again, he forgets to tell us the fate of those who do not prefer to live in the cities, those who love to remain in their rural locations, producing the food crops which many in the cities need to survive.
Fourth: What is disconcerting, is the way Chamisa conjures up these fleeting images of a developed and modern economy but not as part of a well-thought out development strategy which most of us can follow well enough to persuade us to believe that he knows what he is talking about.
There is something of a juvenile’s excitement in the way he reels out these bullet trains and super highways and airports, as if we are coming across these for the first time through his speeches.
His economic vision is not real.
It is not practical enough for mere mortals like us to take him seriously.
In fact, it borders on the surrealist as if he is looting some fanciful ideas from a weird magazine and then mercilessly inflicting them upon our unsuspecting minds.
The point here is: How does he expect us to respond to him?
Should we take what he says seriously or not?
Has he taken the trouble to assess where we are economic-wise and what we need to do first in order to develop ourselves in a practical and sustainable manner?
Again we find ourselves asking: Is Chamisa an incurable dreamer, someone whose grasp of the real and the concrete remains precariously fragile?
When he makes those speeches of his, does he regard us as mere spectators who cannot think for themselves?
Is he an entertainer of sorts, someone we should make allowances for because he does not mean exactly what he says?
Is he a Zimbabwean version of a Trevor Noah in the making, perhaps!