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Putting the interests of Zimbabwe first by Miriam Mutizwa

Reflections of Ms. Miriam Mutizwa, an activist based in the UK on whether the interests of Zimbabwe are sufficiently shared to provide a glue that should unite this divided and polarized nation:

“Today is the last day of the year of the Lord, 2018. As I look back at the events of the year, I saddened that Zimbabwe remains a divided and polarized nation. The elections have come and gone yet the contestation for public office positions remains alive as if no elections have taken place.

I like many of my compatriots will enter 2019 more confused and less optimistic than I was when I entered 2018 armed with a sense of that we as a people had more that united us than divided us.

When I talk of Zimbabwe coming first as a rallying cry, I get the sense that the issue of political power always takes a centre stage.

In my opinion, political power need not be limited to a government head, a king, a president, a Prime Minister, or a Chancellor, or even a CEO, a company boss, a department head and an army platoon leader, who may hold the power and authority to influence or affect outcomes of complex processes involving diverse and multiple sovereign agents.

I have accepted at the individual that although I may have a romantic attachment to the idea called Zimbabwe, it is my actions that help define the character of any outcome that may arise from my choices and actions.

It does not occur to me that if the election outcome was any different from what it was, there was any possibility that whoever won as President would possess the power to reserve my right and freedom to refuse, revolt, disobey, resign, or even conjure a mutiny if decisions were imposed on me and my sovereignty was subordinated to the whims of another person, however deemed to be powerful.

It is my contention that no political power could ever substitute the self-determining character and personality of an individual like me.

So when I say that Zimbabwe must come first I am really saying that my independence and aspirations must come first as should be the case for every Zimbabwean in whose name a government is instituted among us.

In the premises, what I expect of a President is a person who understands the promise and limits of political power. Such power must simply be limited to negotiating shared responsibilities and should only be relevant in remotely influencing outcomes that flow from individual causation and agency.

Accordingly, the perceived power held by ZANU-PF, the ruling party, should only be construed as allowing office bearers in government position to make use of public resources as prescribed in the constitution.

Absent the respect of the rule of law, public resources can easily be converted into private resources with adverse implications on service delivery and the welfare of all who depend on services and goods delivered by public institutions.

Accordingly, the effectiveness of public power is ultimately judged by the citizens who may lose faith in the ability of public office bearers to play their part in delivering the positive outcomes expected from life.

I have grudgingly come to accept that the subject of political power and related issue of leadership remain abstract topics of much discussions and arguments.

Using the above prism, power may, therefore, be acquired as a means of governmental direction or in opposition to a ruling elites.
The terms authority that is often associated with public power is legitimized through elections and its exercise in terms with the prescripts of the constitution.
It cannot be disputed that public power can be generally considered to be evil or unjust but its exercise can produce unintended outcomes, a point that I have been making in relation to the Reconstruction Act.
It is the case that the use of power need not involve force or the threat of force.  Accordingly, one would not expect to see laws like AIPPA, POSA and many others existing and operating in the Zimbabwe where I am the first to be satisfied about the legitimacy of public policies and actions.

Indeed it is and should never be too much to expect that the debate around public power should always be positive and must revolve around the issue of its means to enable implying that it should be a means to make social just and fair actions possible as much as it may constrain or prevent them.

In the words of Michel Foucault, the philosopher, who saw power as a structural expression of “a complex strategic situation in a given social setting, it is important that we pause and reflect about the Zimbabwean we want in relation to the kind of authority and power that should be reserved for public office bearers.

It is my contention that Zimbabwe after 37 years of Mugabeism and a little over a year of the Second Republic needs to have what I can call smart power that is informed and limited by active citizenship that must be vigilant and inclusive.”
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