“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
Lord Acton’s words are as true today as they were in 1887. When politicians become corrupted by power, they become arrogant and tend to think that they own the people. They completely forget that their mandate is to serve the people. Instead, they demand to be called titles like “chef” and in most cases join the looting spree.
The very basis of the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe was that it would give the warring parties, ZANU PF and the MDC formations the opportunity to institute political and legislative reforms that would create an environment conducive for free, fair and credible elections. The reforms included crafting a new charter for the country, bringing transparency, accountability and non-partisanship to the security sector, and ensuring the existence of a free media amongst others. The emphasis was on reforms before anything else and this was clear even from the SADC perspective. The ZANU PF congress resolution in 2011 pushed for early elections and the move was resisted by all parties. This was consistent with the message – REFORMS FIRST.
What happened to the reform agenda?
A constitution does not guarantee free and fair elections; these are guaranteed by the institutions of the state, which are currently exceedingly compromised by their political partisanship. The real challenge for the Inclusive Government, and something being continually demanded by SADC, is to create institutions that are manned by competent professional people that discharge their mandate without fear or favour.
We need traditional leaders who are non-partisan and who abide by the Traditional Leaders’ Act. We need a police force that is not manned by people who publicly attend political party rallies and declare their allegiance, thus not obeying the Police Act. There is a need to address the structures of violence in the communities where women were attacked and raped, where children had to witness violence targeted at their teachers, and where schools were threatened with closure. This machinery is still intact and this is a priority for reform. It is what people expect of its leaders and anything short of addressing these problems, and claiming that they are solved by a constitution that no-one has had time to examine, is misleading. Leaders must remember that they are in power due to the will of the populace, which is where real democratic sovereignty lies.