New politicians' manual

HARARE - No politicians’ and MPs’ manual ever featured an introduction that began: “Go to church — once in a while. Go every Sunday, if you feel strongly enough about the truth.”

Truth and politicians are said to be total strangers.

Of course, some people might say this is evil propaganda — peddled mostly by journalists.

I have never come across such a manual.

Why would politicians need one? Most play the game by ear.

Others learn from their parents or grandparents. Some swear they owe it to bartenders, waitresses and taxi drivers. It takes all kinds to make the world of politics.

Some claim they were inspired by their wives’ complaints about the mystery of housekeeping money. Why is it always short?

My manual would be aimed at Zimbabwe, where most people allege MPs and other politicians have fleeced us left, right and centre.

Not surprisingly, others give the politicians top marks.

It takes all kinds to make a world of politics.

For a start, I would ban political slogans, where the political perfidy begins.

A party with the slogan “Forward with…” is now suspected to be one of the most dishonest in the land.

My theory is that politicians learn from each other. Someone who rises from a gutless backbencher to be leader of the party in Parliament might have been generous, materially, with other MPs, particularly those perennially impecunious.

My manual would advise them to attend church often enough to know the head preacher’s, priest’s or prophet’s name.

They are advised to ensure that whatever they say in or out of Parliament raises tempers, questions, shouts of “My God, how can you say such balderdash?” Or “Oh, I wish I’d said that!” Or: “What a load of codswallop!” Or “Where did you go to school, you knucklehead?”

Also, they must ensure that their response to any speeches is not “Hear! Hear!” I’ll tell them that they might not realise this, but to others they would sound like a bunch of blithering idiots, with loose screws dominating their heads.

To make any difference as a politician in Zimbabwe, you need to bring your language to the vocabulary of the people. Keep the jawbreakers out: infant terrible, medulla oblongata or Mephistopheles.

This may impress the girl or boyfriend in Highlands and Hillside, but not people in Luveve and The Old Bricks.

My manual would begin and end with the edict that politicians can no longer be allowed to get away with mendacity.

To be fair, this must exclude things they say out of ignorance — which must include most of what they say.

If they are proved to have lied — to their constituents and Parliament — they must face sanctions, including suspension of salary.

The greatest sanctions must be against misconduct which brings Parliament into disrepute — consorting with prostitutes (male and female), cohabiting with same, or with minors of either sex.

Also, any MP found guilty of bringing the dignity of Parliament into disrepute should be impeached. This must include the prime minister and the president — assuming we can still pay them, with our economy in such a mess.

Also, if our economy is in tatters, Parliament must bear most of the blame for the scandal.

If Parliament cannot discipline the person holding the country’s purse strings, what good is it for?

My manual would remind the MPs that their constituents are their employers.

If they fail to respond to their demands, they should be locked out of Parliament — or be paid with a bag of maize meal a month — nothing more.

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