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A philanthropic spirit encompassed with an entrepreneurial mind, I am passionate about technology and the things technology can help people to achieve.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hard Choices in Political Leadership: Comptence vs. Affirmative Action

Now that the dust has settled regarding the MDCT congress, I believe it is now safe to crawl from my hiding place. It should now be safe to say something without invoking a lot of emotion. One feature of the MDCT congress was the issue of tribe, there were screams from certain quarters that the challenging of Lovemore Moyo by Lucia Matibenga could disrupt a delicate tribal balance at the higher echelons of the party. In ZANUPF the same pattern is evident where tribal balancing is strictly followed according to the dictates of the 1987 Unity Accord. But in a democracy is there a need for tribal balancing? How does it go with democracy?

In the Zimbabwean context perhaps the people are so used to the ZANUPF way of doing things which is a dangerous precedent for the well being of the state. In South Africa there is no regard for tribal balancing, when ANC go for their elective congress candidates are selected based on competence. I believe tribal balancing is not necessary in a democratic setting; political positions must be contested based on one’s appeal and promise to those who will be voting. Reserving positions for certain tribe or gender is tantamount to stifling the ascendancy of the most capable candidate for the job. I have noted how the tribe card is played at positions from Vice-President downwards. What stops the same from being applied at the presidency level? Is there a realization that the office of a president is serious business with serious repercussions in the event that an incompetent person is selected? It is my considered belief that the same principles that preclude affirmative action at the presidency equally applies across all sectors and positions in society. In an increasingly competitive global market place, a country cannot afford the luxury of having a second best President, Minister of Finance or Foreign Affairs, the consequences of wrong policies internally and externally can be dire.

I believe tribe should have no place in a mature society; people should be afforded the chance to showcase themselves and let the voters choose the best among the crop. Politicians seem to believe that the average human being will make an irrational choice based on tribe. Funny enough it is the same politicians who breed tribe consciousness among the electorate. There was a time in America when it was not envisaged that a black person can become president, had the black consciousness movements continued putting race into people's thoughts and actions, Obama's ascendancy might still be a figment of imagination.

The unfortunate thing about involving tribe in politics is that even the beneficiaries of such moves will not be contented. There is a discontent among many Ndebele for being always playing second fiddle. Rather than try and skirt the issues, politicians particularly from opposition must make painful decisions to break away from the notion of tribe. Every post must contested by any person with best winning.

Many would argue that this is untenable as many small tribes particularly Ndebele would be elbowed out. This is true in the short to medium term because people will have to unlearn reading politicians through tribe card. It’s the prize to pay for inheriting a political system fraught with tribal notions. Once a culture of competence based selection is entrenched in the minds of the people, tribe will move from the fore to the subconscious of our mental faculties. We must liberate the smaller tribes from the give me, give me mentality, there is a tag associated with people who are given positions rather than earn them. Affirmative Action will leave one being adjudged undeserving no matter how capable the person might be, on the incumbent it can leave one vulnerable and lacking confidence.

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