Grace Mutandwa of VoteWatch263 (VW263) asked aspiring independent Member of Parliament for Harare Central, Linda Masarira (LM) her views on the above and other election matters. Below is an excerpt of the discussion with Masarira.
VW263: Where are the party manifestos? Do people really care about them and at the end of the day will message matter?
LM: So far, I have only seen one party manifesto from Build Zimbabwe Alliance led by Noah Manyika. All the other parties have not yet made available their manifestos and this includes the two largest parties in Zimbabwe, the MDC-T and Zanu PF. This is both worrisome and mind-boggling considering that we are less than four months from the 2018 elections. It is rather unfortunate that most Zimbabweans are still politically immature and lack political consciousness to question political party leaders on the tangibles they are offering the electorate.
VW263: Will this be reduced to simply a contest of personalities?
LM: Because the voters do not demand that the leaders address policy issues, they will vote for personalities at the expense of their livelihoods. It is every political activist’s duty to impart knowledge on the importance of political party manifestos, voters’ rights and to teach the electorate to demand accountability from political parties if we are sincere as a nation that we want real change and transformation in Zimbabwe. With the current settings of the political economy which is filled with euphoria of bullet trains and scarfs, I do not see the message being important but rather the personalities especially in the presidential elections. This is going to be detrimental to the future of the country in regards to constitutionalism, sustainable human development and economic growth. It is important for the youth of Zimbabwe to vote differently, to vote for candidates who have the potential to turn things around. If they decide to vote for personalities, booze and drugs they will be doing a great injustice to their future.
VW263: You are an independent candidate and have been knocking on doors, what would you say is the potential voters’ mood towards aspiring independent candidates?
LM: I can only speak for myself and a few other aspiring independent candidates whom I mentor. The situation on the ground is hectic as most independent candidates are personally funding their campaigns and resource mobilisation is proving to be our biggest challenge. The people’s response has been overwhelming because most people are generally fed up with political parties and party candidates who are only visible during election time.
VW263: Of the two main political parties – Zanu PF and the MDC – T (MDC Alliance), which one do you think has an edge over the other or do you see another Government of National Unity (GNU) in the making?
LM: None of the two has an edge over the other considering the political power dynamics in both parties. Considering the unconstitutional rise to power of the two-party presidents (Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF and MDC-T’s Nelson Chamisa) which caused irreversible splits in their parties, it will be difficult for both parties to garner the votes of disgruntled former members but it is still premature to ascertain which of the two will have an edge over the other although Chamisa seems to be making great strides. The delay in release of manifestos by both parties is telling, there could be something brewing.
In previous elections both parties would have been well into their election campaigns at least three or four months before the plebiscite. There is a certain level of laxity in Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance which is raising a lot of questions on whether or not the elections are going to happen. The MDC Alliance is also sending mixed messages on the issue of their participation in the elections.
Personally, I see another GNU in the making and I should say if that happens then that would be the end of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The Alliance should be cognisant of the fact that the last GNU in 2009 diluted and weakened them.
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