Belling Zim's electoral-ideological cat

HARARE - It will take a while yet for the national after effect of the 2018 harmonised election to wear off. Praise singers of Emmerson Mnangagwa will continue justifying his eventual victory while those of the opposition will continue to cast extremely negative aspersions to it.

What will, however, be a reality is that Cabinet, Parliament and local government councils will be formally constituted and start doing some sort of work. As per their constitutional and respective political party mandates.

Expectations will no doubt be high.  It will be almost like watching a football match and rooting for your favourite team or shrilly deriding the performance of your opponent.

For the (still) ruling Zanu PF party, it will be a question of performance legitimacy. Quite what sort of performance it expects of itself and others is not altogether politically clear. It is, however, very much known behind the elite scenes that it is an ideologically neo-liberal “performance” that is expected. In almost “oxymoronic” fashion, it promises “jobs, jobs, jobs” while at the same time touting the ease of doing business and the de-unionisation of labour.

It is the same thing with the mainstream opposition political parties.

They too made (and still make) promises about job creation while using a neo-liberal economic template that does not take kindly to decent wages let alone working conditions for workers.

So what we have is a neo-liberal/capitalist economic ideological framework being touted as the panacea for Zimbabwe’s economic challenges. And this across the political divide.

Yet we are presented (by the mainstream print and electronic media) with an assumedly highly strung, “do or die” political contestation between the major political parties. All of whom have a neo-liberal ideological outlook that focuses more on global capital than adopt a people cantered approach to national wealth redistribution. All in the spirit of seeking the attention of western and eastern global economic powerhouses. Hence the big battles about the legitimacy of the election resided not in the people of Zimbabwe, but what observer missions had to say. At least eventually.

What then obtains is an interesting convergence of an electoral process with a neo-liberal ideological outlook that is deemed as progressive by the local and global political elite.

Its almost an attempt at not only ending ‘‘ideology’’ in Zimbabwean politics but more significantly a negation of history on the part of the largest political parties that have emerged after the 2018 election. Both have moved away from their founding values and principles without an iota of historical guilt. Largely because they have not had internal democratic practices and pander more to personalities than people-centred and organic democratic ideas.

Their internal autocratic characteristics do not, however, end there (i.e internally).

It also cascades into the Fanonian national consciousness and creates a popular culture founded on elitism and borderline personality cults.

The pitfalls of which become apparent with statements such as “we don’t care who we vote for as long its not Zanu PF/MDC/G-40.” Hence for many a Zimbabwean voter, it is into so much the ideas that motivate our political actors that matter but who they are and what their personality may or may not represent. By way of age or association.

The easier route is to accept this as political reality and watch it all play itself out or join the fray. Until the next election in 2023.

The more conscientious route is to query these low levels of progressive, democratic and organic national consciousness in order to proffer solutions not just in the now but for posterity. This would mean seeking to dismantle this emergent neoliberal electoral-ideological complex in favour of a social democratic one.

And this would be what is tantamount to belling the electoral-ideological cat. A daunting task in its proverbial as well as realistic sense.

NOTE: Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

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