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Opinion / Columnist

Stop complaining and get involved!

09 May 2020 at 08:17hrs | Views
IT would be remiss to not ac-knowledge the outpouring of responses to last week's article entitled What are Zimbabweans known for. It touched a raw nerve with many people, especially those who deliberately chose to misunderstand the point.

Those are the ones I address today by saying that, unfortunately, bad governance cannot be complained away.

Politicians are not going to stop buying luxury vehicles for themselves, while pre-term babies die from lack of oxygen for lack of incubators simply because people are complaining angrily about it on social media.

Politicians never reform on their own. It is the electorate that matures and reforms when it stops electing the wrong people into public offices.

The electorate reforms by getting involved meaningfully and actively in the politics of its country.

The electorate has to take responsibility for its bad choices and learn to use effective ways of bringing elected public officials to account or at least vote them out office.

Complaining on its own is not going to change anything no matter how viral the complaint goes on social media.

There are many ways of getting involved in nation-building, but merely complaining without doing anything else is not one of them.

Not everyone can be a politician, but everyone can be involved meaningfully even if it is only educating oneself about what the important issues are.

Refraining from being lured by slogans and the vacuous entertaining speeches of politicians and learning to ask them the right questions is also doing something meaningful.

Few qualified and skilled people are in decision-making offices because of the nature of the winner takes all electoral system.

The Auditor-General's 2019 report noted that the Harare City Council's finance and audit committee does not have anyone with finance and accounting qualifications or skills.

Even though the city employs qualified accountants and finance practitioners, they report to people who do not fully understand what is reported to them and how to act properly on it. The rest of the country is not that different.

For the 2018 financial year, of the 92 local authorities, only three namely Bindura, Tongogara and Marondera rural district councils had their 2018 financial statements audited and reported on. Seventy local authorities could not submit their financial statements for audit.

It is the electorate which chooses people who cannot do the job and when service delivery inevitably fails they are surprised and disappointed and they complain.

When the companies and other business entities Bill was debated in Parliament in 2018, only 10 of the 270 MPs debated it.

It was too technical and complex for the other 260 members, who just looked on waiting for the end so they could be told how to vote.

At elections, qualified and educated people who can articulate legislative issues are usually set aside in preference for those who can chant slogans or are regularly seen attending community funerals.

For a country with fairly high literacy rates, all elected officials should have high levels of education and the capacity to understand and debate complex issues.

Legislators should not just be spectators when laws that affect the entire country are being made. However, if the electorate votes unqualified people into public office, that is what the electorate wants and it should not complain.

Many elected officials are not skilled or qualified for their positions, but bashing them for it is unproductive if they were elected into those offices. It shows that the electorate itself lacks understanding of the complexities of public offices.

Unqualified people who put them-selves up for election are less responsible than the people who vote for them. Granted, the political terrain of Zimbabwe is not easy. People have lost life and limb just for trying to get involved in politics. It takes takes great personal sacrifice to stand for public office but still the electorate should vote the right people into office.

The electorate repeatedly entrusts the wrong people with powerful decision-making offices. Voters rarely ask the questions they should ask.

Rarely do they ask candidates vital questions about their plans for the budget deficit, tax policies or their transport or education policies.

People are often fixated with voting for the sole purpose of defeating and humiliating a rival party instead of with putting the right candidates into public office. They would rather elect unqualified candidates than to elect the right people from outside their party.

The result is the inevitable failure of service delivery and politicians building luxury manors with public funds instead of building community schools. At this, the electorate will resort to complaining for the next five years only to repeat the same thing at the next elections.

There are people who do things and there are those who complain about the people who do things. People who complain about everything are found everywhere — in families, churches, clubs, boards and schools.

When volunteers are needed to sit on committees or to simply sell raffle tickets or donate a small amount of money or time for a cause, they are the ones who look down quickly so that no one will notice them.

They only look up again when the usual people have volunteered. In national issues some of them do not even vote in elections or participate in any other meaningful way.

Some cannot even donate two hours of their time to distribute their own preferred candidate's campaign material.

However, on Twitter and WhatsApp groups, they are the ones awake past midnight banging the most furiously away on their keypads cursing the loudest and angriest about how badly things are being run.

Miriam Tose Majome is a lawyer at Veritas and she writes in her personal capacity. She can be contacted on and Twitter @MajomeMiriam

Source - newsday
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