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Zimbabwe and the wealth card in the coming elections

11/01/2018 00:00:00
by Seewell Mashizha
Chamisa: new prospect or damp squib?
Zim’s balance sheet & need for new impetus
Economy: the need for a paradigm shift
Zim: The curse of the ‘Amai Syndrome’
Parties to be judged on appeal, results
The Coriolanus factor and its aftermath
Era of intrigue, pacts & accommodation?
When a stich in time could save nine
G40 Crew now Zim’s Gang of Four?
Kenya: What parallels for Zimbabwe?
Korea and Kenya: Which way Africa?
Africa must negate US's global empire
Zim’s silly season in politics continues
Yesterday’s ogres & restorative justice
Subverting the golden rule in our time
Seewell Mashizha: When bad boys return
Zimbabwe: Obstacles to Pan-Africanism
Generational politics & something seismic
2018: Looming battle of manifestos & issues
2018: As the MDC-T threatens violence
Envisioning the new day that must come
Of Zim’s political history and the convulsions
Gukurahundi: no single narrative will do
Prejudice and black achievements
Mashizha: Negating western propaganda
Rival political interests: Strengths & flaws
2018 and Zanu PF’s liberation war DNA
2018 elections and the opposition
Of wily foxes and tearful crocodiles
Time for Africa to shape its own destiny
US & the rise of Trump: An interpretation
Mashizha: A new world reportage by Africans
Mashizha: telling our own stories as we see them
Zim: The curse of a blue print syndrome
Seewell Mashizha: Life is an open book
Seewell Mashizha: Africa’s interests
New day dawning or world done for?
Why Zim needs own glasnost, perestroika
Corruption: Tracking Zim’s slime highway
Africa through her revolutionary seers
Prophetic Edwin Hama: Waiting for a new day!

In the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4) a cosmic drama is recorded for posterity.

The perpetual antithesis between good and evil is immortalized in these verses. In the period preceding the commencement of his Ministry, Jesus of Nazareth withdraws into the wilderness to meditate upon his impending destiny.

According to the gospels the devil tracks him down and attempts to defile his thinking by tempting Jesus to choose a path that would lead to superficial adulation in the world of man but attain no permanent or lasting impact on humankind.

If you have ever been really hungry but also known that there was no way in which you could satiate your hunger, you will understand just how devastatingly tortuous the gnawing hunger can be. Towards the end of his thirty-day fast, Jesus is weary, weak and famished. He is therefore at his most vulnerable at this point in time and Old Nick the devil is at his most suave and persuasive. He reminds Jesus that he really does not to suffer this way. Since he is the son of God he can easily turn hard rock into bread and feed himself. That of course would have aborted Jesus’s mission on earth, so he rejects the idea with the contempt that it deserves. Fittingly Jesus retorts:

“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (English Standard Version).

Human beings throughout history have pushed themselves to the limit when that which they hold in great esteem is threatened or when they needed to scale certain heights in the area of human endeavour. Visionaries and revolutionaries have generally been driven by a passion so great and a conviction so unshakeable that no adversity can divert them or make them digress from their envisioned course. The iconic and now legendary life of Ernesto Che Guevara is one of those lives that best illustrate this trait. He more than most people understood what it was to be truly internationalist. Accordingly, Che’s ideological persuasion and political acts gave a new nuance to the concept of being a citizen of the world. In his own life Che shunned the narrow interests of political elitism and did not allow his Argentinian nationality to limit his vision. History records how he marched with Fidel Castro and others in a guerrilla war that culminated in the campaign of the Sierra Maestra in the period 1956–58.


Similarly, Che went to the Congo in 1965 and met his demise in Bolivia in 1967 while on the business of fomenting revolution around the world. Men like Che, Steve Biko, Josiah Tongogara and Thomas Sankara appear to have had premonitions about what the future had in store for them, but continued with their quests nevertheless. These men and others like them were motivated by more than just bread and butter issues and may in part have contributed to the new thinking now emerging, a thinking according to which the narrow definition of wealth around money and finance no longer suffices.

Zimbabwean academic and researcher Joseph Matowanyika (2017) talks about immanent wealth that is seen as wealth beyond that expressed by finance capital only. In this regard, Matowanyika asserts that analysts now are in general agreement that a new paradigm that goes beyond the confines of finance capital is necessary. In terms of this paradigm shift modern realities demand that social engineers in their entirety embrace new models and in particular that they examine and embrace the five types of capital that define wealth (Lessem and Schieffer, 2010a). The five capitals are: human capital; social capital; natural capital; built capital; and financial capital.

While human capital speaks about the sum total of individual human propensities, social capital is an expression of the strength of our relationships as human beings. The natural resources that nations own are what Lessem and Schieffer call natural capital. Built capital is developmental and refers to what we build and manufacture through our deployment of human and finance capital. Finance capital is, of course, the sum total of cash, savings and investments, but is by itself not adequate to express true wealth.

Political formations in Zimbabwe and elsewhere that place too much importance on money and finance alone as a means of swaying voters are likely to come to grief when they discover that the politics of NGOs is becoming increasingly unsustainable in today’s world. They are also likely to discover that when people realize that wealth is more than just money in the bank, they are unlikely to be swayed by ephemeral flashes of tainted money such as that which peasants in the countryside have begun to be ‘blessed’ with around Zimbabwe.

The party that will be seen to be identifying most closely with the people’s collective needs and values will carry the day. Recent events have shown that being Zimbabwean continues to be paramount. The proverbial thirty pieces of silver will be ineffectual this time around. In this context, reports coming from the rural areas indicate a hitherto unknown level of desperation in opposition circles.

Anyone who embraces the MDC is given a cap and a T-shirt with the face of Vharazipi, the comedian from Masvingo, Each person is then given a forty-dollar handshake. It is thought that this can subvert ZANU-PF’s hold on rural voters. The assumption made is that rural voters can be swayed with gloss, trinkets and promises of food baskets. This is amazing when we consider that Nelson Chamisa is a pastor and should be more discerning in terms of the words attributed to Jesus regarding the relegation of food to the outer confines of human existence.

True, there will be some who hold the opinion that nothing matters in the end as long as physical hunger is stilled, but will they be in numbers sufficient to defeat the incumbent government? The contention that if the electorate suffers long enough they will find their torturers sufficiently endearing to be voted for is a total misapprehension.

Have we in Zimbabwe come to a crossroads? Are we about to experience our Esau moment in which, enticed by the smell of venison, we shall throw all care to the wind and give away our birth right? These are pertinent questions that will need answers. We must also wonder if Chamisa’s expose on the new politics he hankers for is sincere or just another tinkering? The recent visit to America by prominent representatives of the MDC Alliance are illustrative of a disturbing kind of expediency. The sweet talk notwithstanding, the honourable men went to Washington to ask Big Brother America to continue making Zimbabwe’s economy scream. No attempt has so far been made to come up with attractive programmes that would be so irresistible as to make it near impossible for the MDC Alliance to come off second best. Hare-brained schemes such as the current money-distributing fiasco will not work. Some people might take the money and still vote as they wish. Obvious questions around this strategy relate to the source of the funds and to why the alliance does not just deposit into everyone’s bank account the amount of $40 per person. That of course would be quite challenging. Let us, for argument’s sake, assume that Zimbabwe’s population as of now stands at 12 million. That would require monthly finance totalling USD4 800 000 and just under USD60 000 000 annually. Is this a tenable development trajectory?

Going by current indications, the MDC Alliance might be shocked to discover that this time around no threat of the withdrawal of donor assistance is likely to have any impact on voter behaviour and preferences. The Alliance will have to work much harder. Significantly, Eddie Cross, a senior member of the MDC-T has expressed concern over the way things are going in that party.

In an interview with Star FM News recently, Cross said that his party is disorganised and not prepared for elections.
"It's like herding cats, people are running in every direction, it's almost as if there is no centre calling the shots anymore. That might be the fact that Morgan Tsvangirai is struggling with his health," Cross said.

The scenario described by Cross reveals interesting parallels with recent happenings in ZANU-PF. Where Robert Mugabe’s age was a cause for alarm and concern, the ailing Tsvangirai’s health is similarly causing fear and consternation with some arguing that the succession path in the MDC-T should be made clearer to avoid duplicating the ZANU-PF experience of recent times. Powerful subterranean forces appear to be afoot in the MDC-T in particular, with each of the contenders for the MDC-T crown feverishly trying to project themselves. That does seem to translate into factions. The manner in which the silent schisms play out in the days ahead will be instructive.

Meanwhile no one should take the people for granted.

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