As the watershed Zimbabwe 2018 elections loom over the horizon – and various political entities strategically position themselves where they hope to garner the best results – the major focus has been on the ‘fight’ for the ultimate prize – the presidency.
Over the past couple of years, we have all been witnessing, with bated breath, the ferocious factional fighting within the ruling ZANU PF party – as rivals seek to outdo each other in an attempt to succeed their 93 year old leader President Robert Mugabe.
Similarly, there have been alliances formed and broken, as the opposition camp agrees and disagrees, on who should be their presidential candidate – amongst other pressing issues – resulting in major disagreements within several parties, that threaten to break them up.
Additionally, other opposition groups have opted not to be part of any coalition.
Nevertheless, most attention has been on the shenanigans taking place in ZANU PF, as the fights grow even more fierce by the day.
I will not delve on these in-fights, coalitions, and break-ups, as that is not the crux of my discourse – besides, it would be monotonous, as all this is common knowledge.
However, a question that all these fights has raised is: ‘What is the real reason we want to be president?’
This question has vexed me for quite some time, as I also witness the goings on in other, predominantly, African states – where presidents have refused to step down, mainly by manipulating the constitution.
We have witnessed how some presidents, especially in north Africa had to be ousted by popular uprisings; whilst, others did not have any qualms even if their countries were reduced to rubble due to armed conflict, as a direct result of their refusal to cede power.
In all these cases, presidents were prepared for thousands of people to die, as long as they remained in power.
What would drive a president to such levels of cruelty and evil?
In Zimbabwe, the president does not mind if the whole nation suffers due to his incompetent government, as long as he remains in office.
Similarly, some opposition leaders would rather see their parties disintegrate, due to their stubbornness in leaving office.
Yet, all these leaders have the audacity to tell their constituents that they are there to serve them.
I am reminded of a question that was asked some little children:
‘What will you be when you grow up?’
I clearly remember some answering: ‘The president’.
What motivated these children to say that?
Was it that they had had enough of the country’s poverty and their parents’ suffering, and wanted to put an end to it?
Had they witnessed their loved ones needlessly dying due to lack of medication in government hospitals, and wanted to change that?
Was the shortage of books in their schools the motive?
We might never know the real motive, but it could have so easily have been the lust for power.
They are not blind to how the president wields so much power, and generally does whatever he wants with impunity.
They have seen how people fall over each other to sing him praises, and basically worship him.
It is obvious to them how his word is law, and the immeasurable wealth that he has amassed.
Thus, what is the motive for the grown ups to fiercely fight for the presidency?
Is it truly the desire to serve, or is it the unadulterated lust for power?
Is it a selfless sacrifice to improve the lives of the suffering people, or a selfish bid for personal aggrandizement?
Most of us know the biblical story of the two women who went before King Solomon, as they fought over a baby.
The king tested them by ordering that the baby be cut in two, so that each of the women would get half.
Needless to say, the fake mother agreed, but the genuine mother begged that the baby not be killed, and said the other woman could have it.
The same applies to the issue of the presidency.
All those who would rather see their country and people suffer, or do not mind their party breaking up, as the result of their refusal to cede power, are akin to the fake mother.
A genuine leader, who puts the interests of his or her country, people, or party ahead of everything else, would voluntarily step aside if doing so would yield positive results.
Clearly, the problems bedeviling Zimbabwe are due to a president who does not want to relinquish power – no matter how much he believes that he is right.
The ferocious fighting for power within both the ruling and opposition also exposes the selfish interests of those involved.
Zimbabwe needs genuinely selfless leaders who will put the nation ahead of themselves, as leadership is not about privilege and power, but service and sacrifice.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is available should anyone invite him to speak at any event. Please call +263782283975, or email email@example.com