Whose Democracy?


On Monday the 22nd of October President Mugabe was reported to have told legislators, who make up the Constitutional Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (Copac), to “know where power resides” and reminded them that the reform process had been initiated by coalition principals when they signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA). “Ndisu takanyora chiya chamunoti GPA, tikachiendesa kuParliament tikati maMP vhoterai chinhu ichi. Vose vakachivhotera vachitya kudzingwa. Zvino ndodemocracy here iyoyo?, “We started this process pasina (without) democracy. Sometimes Parliament thinks it’s so sovereign that it controls the Principals. Ah kwete;(no) we are the ones who caused everything!  He said.

These statements and the question posed by the President should be asked by every Zimbabwean. What is democracy?Who does it begin with and do we have democracy in Zimbabwe? The answers that each individual gives could be unique to their understanding. Shouldn’t democracy be a means by which Zimbabweans  choose their leaders and hold them accountable for their policies and their conduct in office? Should Zimbabweans not be able to decide who represents them in parliament, and whol heads the government at the national and local levels by making choices amongstcompeting parties in regular, free and fair election? Must government not be based on the consent of the governed who are the teachers, doctors, unemployed people, vendors, farmers, mothers, brothers and others? In a democracy, is it not the people who are sovereign—are they not the highest form of political authority? Shouldn’t power flow from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily? Is democracy something that can be purchased in a store? Can it be the rule of a whole nation by three individuals? Isn’t democracy a system of rule by laws and not by individuals? Does it not require compromise and willingness to sit down and negotiate by groups with different interests and opinions?

In a democracy, should one group always win everything it wants or should it not be the case that different combinations of groups win on different issues?  If one group is always excluded and fails to be heard, could that not turn them against the government  in anger and frustration?  Is it not the case that everyone who is willing to participate peacefully and respect the rights of others should have some say in the way the country is governed in a democracy?

Inferring from the words of the President, can a process incited by three people as a result of a negotiated effort be termed democratic? Or can such a process then change to become democratic after it started off on the wrong note? And if within that process there seems to be a dominant group that is always winning or rather forcing its will on the rest of the population, can that be democracy?

It is your call…

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