Zimbabwe: A New Voice in the Face of the Old Guard

opinion

Before the 2017 coup and for decades, this country had been referred to as "Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe". Now with the late former president gone and his former lieutenants in charge, we need new names and thinking. The country is teetering towards an irreversible social and economic collapse that has been made worse by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The main opposition party, MDC, has not fared any better.

Each time Zanu PF sneezed, MDC has been seen to catch a cold.

Everything that people hated in Zanu PF now manifests in MDC.

Today it is no longer a question of whether the hope for the nation resides within the two parties mainly responsible for creating the current toxic political environment existing in Zimbabwe.

Hope does not reside in a toxic environment that the parties have co-created. It is now the appropriate time to ask the question: "From here, where do we go?" Good question.

The country deserves better leadership and a political environment that inspires citizens to be productive.

Whether at the ballot box or in the day-to-day lives of its citizenry, the political process under the mischaracterised "new dispensation" has unequivocally stifled socio-economic reform.

And with 2018 elections yielding the usual empty promises and another election coming in three years, hope and change are in short supply.

The academic curriculums for our children, still learning under dilapidated institutions in both urban and rural areas with little oversight, are antiquated and polarising because political bias and innuendo is embedded in the education system.

History has in many cases, literally been rewritten in their textbooks, and with teachers routinely paid late, if at all.

Agribusiness in the former breadbasket of southern Africa is also in disarray -- it has been reported that we suffer from a shortfall of more than a million tonnes of maize (once our leading export), with no progress on the horizon to take the begging bowl to the World Food Programme with partners in the United Nations to check this state of affairs.

Perhaps despite the best intentions of some sections within Zimbabwe to market the country positively, tourism has remained inadequate, seemingly permanently shifted to our fellow, more transparent Sadc member states like South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.

Historically and still true today, voices that rise to oppose the status quo in Zimbabwe often face intimidation, because the ruling establishment, or the politicians and opposition members themselves are removed from the day-to-day challenges.

Nonetheless, change in some way, shape or form is on the horizon.

In tandem with a concerned, more informed international community, our party, that of Zimbabwe People First (ZimFirst), plans to have that change, be accountable, bipartisan and stand for the betterment of our people, our nation and its standing in Africa.

We are a nation of abundant natural and human resources and, therefore, we have opportunities for international integration, successful and mutually beneficial partnerships.

Mineral deposits are dispersed throughout the country; coal often lies just under the surface of our roads, with huge tracts of land suitable for arable cultivation.

While history will no doubt extol the political founders who transformed colonial Rhodesia into independent Zimbabwe, there is work to be done to effectively re-integrate us with the international community as a trusted African partner, conduit for investment and once again, a power-player on the continent.

We must work with our partners, private and public alike, to form coalitions of strength, like-mindedness and unabashedly, leverage the moral high ground.

We must re-install credibility in the political process and do what we can to encourage international analysis and scrutiny where it is deserved.

If we fail to achieve these goals, we may find ourselves under the clenched fist of a determined dictatorial regime, reinvigorated by the lack of coordination and unity that has claimed a collective opposition and subsequently, our ambitions for a better tomorrow for Zimbabwe.

All hope is not lost, at ZimFirst, we are ready to lead the nation on a roadmap to that great Zimbabwe that we all yearn for.

I want to conclude with these words: Beyond the rhetoric that often follows the advent of a political movement, ZimFirst Party understands that it is ultimately in our hands to create lasting change.

The future is bright if we put all our hands on deck, bring our fresh ideas and fresh legs.

Together we will fulfil the promise of getting Zimbabwe back to be the breadbasket of Africa.

I ask you all citizens of Zimbabwe to join me on the path to greatness.

l Maxwell Zeb Shumba is president of Zimbabwe People First Party

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