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Ahead of 2023 Elections: A reflection of the disintegration of public value in Zimbabwe.

  • 1 month ago

The Zimbabwean economy is in comatose, and the political environment is highly toxic and a disintegrating social fabric. The 2013 general elections are approaching in the background of a divided nation and weak and dysfunctional opposition. There is no strategic direction displayed by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and other opposition parties to adapt and navigate this fraught political landscape. The traits of violence have already escalated. On February 27th, Mboneni Ncube was killed after a violent crash. The continual persecution of Zengeza, a Member of Parliament, and executive members of CCC Job Sikhala and others is a cause of concern.

 

Teachers continue to demand a living wage, and all civil servants and the general population live below the poverty datum line. After fee hikes, students have expressed dissatisfaction with the Harare government, reflecting a fragmented Zimbabwean society. The President has failed to deliver his 2018 election promises. The 79-year-old ZANU-PF leader will seek a second full term after failing to provide and turn the country into an investor-friendly environment. 

The government is highly polarized, and the regime in Harare is working tirelessly to guarantee its victory through co-optation, intimidation, and vote-rigging. 

 

The history of Zimbabwe shows that the nation is traumatized; there has never been room for peace and stability; healing and reconciliation are still a dream to be achieved. Besides holding regular elections to promote the democratic development of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean´s public values have deteriorated due to the violent nature of the liberation struggle, which is ingrained in the Zimbabwean political culture, and have shaped post-independence politics. State violence as a method of repression had been a prominent feature of the white minority government pre-independence period.  Post-independence state violence and repression were adopted and modified by the Mugabe regime from 1980-to 2017 and the Mnangagwa regime from 2018.

 

While the public value discourse is a new concept and practice in the global south, it is a cause of concern as the country goes for the 2023 elections. The modern conceptions of the ideal state began with the reflections of Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. In the long history of statehood and political thought, the meanings ascribed to such ideals have been modified and should be understood within the context of a particular state. The dominant culture and ideology prevalent in a state ultimately influence how government structures itself to reflect the conceptions and conventions that the public attaches to the ideal or best way government should govern. 

 

Public values underpin and shape the government's behavior, culture, and conviction to change certain aspects. Culture is a complex whole that encompasses beliefs, customs, knowledge norms, values, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. It distinguishes people, communities, and nations from others and stems from micro components of culture and macro societal institutions. The origin of a Zimbabwean state can typically be traced back to its traditions, culture, ideology, history, environmental conditions, and so forth. Public officials and political representatives can only meaningfully fulfill their obligations if they appreciate the role that public institutions and the public, in general, should play in society. This piece seeks to answer the most conceding questions on how public values have influenced state direction or misdirection. 

 

Zimbabwe´s democratic politics is a nuisance for public value management. The evidence is that public officials are responsible for identifying and choosing public values, even lobbying and campaigning for them. The public value system in the non-western world, particularly in the African context, has disintegrated due to multifaceted factors ranging from colonialism to globalization. Global South politics is not an appropriate forum for aggregating and accommodating the plurality of values. Public officials seem better positioned to identify, prioritize, weigh, and even legitimize different values and claims. Politics in the Global South malignantly continues to make their task difficult even with time and skill. One may still have to hope against hope that the political environment is willing to be disciplined and focused in its deliberations.

Any breaches of the social contract in society could lead to conflict and even civil war. Therefore, sustaining the social contract depends mainly on ordering the constitution and laws to avoid unbalanced or excessive concentrations of power, whether in the public or the private sector. The social contract has been breached in the Zimbabwean context, and democratic values are no longer respected within politics.  Public values provide a normative consensus about the rights, benefits, and prerogatives to which citizens should and should not be entitled; the obligations of citizens to society, the state, and one another; and the principles on which governments and policies should be based. Public values are the core creator of trust in the government and its institutions of governance. 

Several media houses and platforms indicate that the Zimbabwean state is divided. And there are very slim chances that the coming 2023 elections will be competitive and yield better results that can change the public value systems. People outside the presume of political parties are tired of the system. Continued violence intimidates CCC supporters and could discourage them from freely attending rallies, fuelling voter apathy. This tactic of ZANU‑PF's incumbency advantage, which the party regularly exploits to maintain hegemony. However, underlying resentment towards the government will continue to grow locally and internationally. On the market analysis, this resentment reduces foreign direct investment and the growth of the tourism industry, leading to slow growth in the country's GDP. If no reforms are implemented, the central scenario remains that ZANU‑PF will win the 2023 general elections, given its tight grip on security services and judicial institutions.

The history of Zimbabwe shows that the nation is traumatized; there has never been room for peace and stability; healing and reconciliation are still a dream to be achieved. Besides holding regular elections to promote the democratic development of Zimbabwe. Transitional justice remains one of the critical pillars of healing the traumatized nation. The militarist forms of nationalist struggles and the state's monopolization by the ruling party bred a new round of human rights abuses that have continued into the present period and threatened economic development. The continual holding of elections led to extreme government debts on the economic side in Zimbabwe. Elections in Zimbabwe are marked by financial disaster policies but have political benefits, particularly to political elites and their cronies. In the long run, the rollout of unsustainable welfare schemes is a common ploy used by ZANU PF to woo voters, especially in rural areas. Such manipulation would not work if the voters were rational and were likely to elect a government based on its long-term performance. 

However, unfortunately, that is not the case. Voters often focus on the short-term benefits they are likely to receive, which causes governments to spend much money trying to look good just before the elections, which is why Zimbabwe is in an economic mess. The other factor is that industrialists and investors avoid making critical decisions during an election yearor the election period in general. This is because a change in the government may also mean a difference in the government’s priorities. Many times, a government's policies entirely change a project's viability. Investors want to avoid the risk of their projects becoming redundant due to inconsistent government policies and political character changes. Hence, they prefer to play the wait and watch the game. This negatively impacts the economy since the economic output and the jobs that could have been created are being postponed. Increased spending by each political party marks the election period. Every political party spends millions of dollars. This money is suddenly taken out of bank accounts and unleashed. This is why suddenly, there is much money chasing limited amounts of goods. This results in price inflation. 

From all the above points, it is clear that neither the government nor the citizens are looking at long-term results during an election year. They are only concerned about the immediate impact that their policies can create. As a result, the economy completely stops focusing on long-term imports. Instead, the focus is on immediate consumption. Thus, long-term spending, like infrastructure projects, takes a hit. This has led to slower economic growth in every election year that the Zimbabwean economy has seen after independence. The bottom line is that elections drain the national economy and are never a means to change economic aspects. Of course, they are essential, and they define what a democracy is. However, every election costs the economy much money. Hence, a country would be better off avoiding frequent elections from an economic standpoint. Therefore, it is in the voters’ interest to elect a strong government that will last the entire tenure so that elections do not have to be undertaken before they are planned. It also helps to ensure peace and stability in the country.