Hunger for power not a just political objective

There is this hideous notion that hunger for power is good; driving that idea are people that are perfectly willing to feed the ambitions of political conspirators who are committed to undercut public interest for personal gain. Hunger for power is spuriously sold as a legitimate driver for politics. 39 years of Zimbabwean political self-rule, familiarity with greed has become the norm, the goodness of hunger for power seems like common sense; the prevailing politics is a classic wicked rule perpetuated and protected by lust for power. 

Reflecting on Zimbabwean politics, the sad fact is that politics built on hunger for power is not good, and never will be. It creates idols of politicians but neglects the electorate. ZANU’s actions in Matabeleland in 1983/4 is a hallmark of the brutality of greed. Those gripped by lust for power use every trick available to shield themselves from appreciating human value to focusing on material gains from power.

As Mthwakazi citizens, we know the effects of a power hungry based politics, we bear the emotional bruises, broken limbs and senseless loss of life when we fell victims to the spell of ZANU’s hunger for power and the party’s political philosophy (tribalism). The experience has undoubtedly damaged our political worldview.

Competition may be a norm and unavoidable in politics, but it does not mean greed should be the driver that should be romanticised. While we acknowledge that political parties are not formed to fail and it is easier for a political party to implement its policies if it attains power, we reject the notion that lust for power should be our political template.

When one enters politics with a primary aim to serve the public, their perspective to politics changes, and their relationship with the electorate becomes respectful and considerate than manipulative and reckless.

Our politics must focus on good policies with hunger for power being only secondary to that. This notion of hunger for power being central to political existence should be challenged as evidence clearly shows it is a bedrock for rogue political activity, be it in a dictatorship or a democracy.  

Power obsessed politicians are dangerous to vulnerable citizens and we have a responsibility to stop them. We must discourage inaction, many in today’s Mthwakazi society no longer contribute to local politics effectively, or they do not even try. Increasingly, many of our people are becoming passive; the easiest thing to do is nothing. It is equally true that for many, the simplest action —with the smallest risk— is to stay neutral and hope for a political miracle that will see politicians rein themselves in and start to care for the electorate’s needs.

The electorate have enormous power that out of laziness choose not to use to change the politics playing in our country. We must not be in the business of admiring hunger for power as a somewhat righteous objective of a political party’s existence. Hunger for power is an essential ingredient that drives parties and individuals to focus on their primary aim in politics, but it must never of itself be the primary aim for political existence.  

We further argue that a culture of voter rationality must be cultivated, and politicians must be called to account. The knowledge that ZANU PF and the MDC are greedy does not imply they have correspondingly good intentions and it should never inspire anyone to vote for these parties. Scrutinise their policies and decide. In fact, discovering that a party seeking your vote is “extremely greedy” should be a strong marker against it.

Our great political lesson to date is not that greed is good, but that good political aims transform this highly contentious motive into great results. Hunger for power plus the right political ideology plus rationality plus principle plus integrity is good.  Greed alone is a big ‘NO’.

When the unconstitutional military coup of 2017 unfolded, media space was extended to those who celebrated but deliberately ‘denied’ to those who dared question the merit of a change anchored by the same tools that have sustained the ZANU PF greedy thugs.

Impaired political judgement meant many became blind to the long standing tight links between the thugs in government and the thugs in the armed forces; people forgot the two had worked in cohorts against public interest for decades and were such intertwined that the risk to one exposed the other to the same outcome.

In the public’s naïve judgement, one devil dressed in sheep’s wool was glorified and treated as such – an innocent lamb on our side, sacrificing itself to commit to public service. People believed or at least hoped the military (a state institution) was finally parting ways with ZANU PF (a political ideological institution) to protect public interest – nothing could be further from the truth.

This is no longer a time for a politics driven by a hunger for power neither is it a time for pride nor inaction; Mthwakazi must work together. Differences must be set aside. Individual cultures and ideologies have their appropriate uses but none of them erase or replace our universal experience under the Zimbabwean regime.

Of all attributes, credible policies, and not just lust for power, should qualify people and organisations to a position of power. Greed saves no public interest, but through it political careers are created by whatever means necessary. In a power hungry, power worshipping society, a miasma of unknowing is created and the vulnerable are driven deeper into despair. As long as the paranoid power hungry fundamentalists ZANU PF and the MDC dominate our social space, Mthwakazi is in grave danger.

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Published by RESEARCH HUB

a political and policy research hub with interest in Mthwakazi human rights, safety and security.

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