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Zimbabwe's coalition government presented an opportunity to build a fractured state

Opinion

HawkEye: Zim should go back to the basics

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The NewsHawks Managing Editor Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWE has a serious and deep multifaceted problem: broken and toxic politics – characterised by mutual destructive polarisation – with no room for rational disputation, a protracted economic crisis and complex social problems.

Yet the problem is not as complex and complicated as it looks. It not that convoluted as in many African countries like Nigeria, Central African Republic, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, for instance.

Zimbabwe’s problem is defined by a crisis of leadership, governance and policy failures. That is what we are dealing with here. A proper election is the starting point.

This is not reductionism or rocket science. This is essence of the national question. The problem look multifarious and compounded, but upon further reflection it is not.

To resolve its problems, Zimbabwe needs to go back to the basics. People must take a step backwards, breathe and ask what is the problem? What is to be done?

First, the country needs new politics based on a new value system, ideas and rational contestation, not anger, hate and labelling.

Politics driven by ideas, values and principles, not politics of the stomach. So this means reconstituting the political.

Second, political parties must have proper identity – their heart and soul – about what they stand for in terms of ideas and values.

Political parties must not be a haven for organised criminal gangs in suits. Indeed, parties mustn’t be ethnic assemblages.

And by that logic, elections must not be an ethnic census as Frantz Fanon warned.

Third, elections must be credible, free and fair. Zimbabweans must learn that elections are not a matter of life and death.

Fourth, leadership, governance and policy competence are the key. This is the crux of the matter. Zimbabwe as a nation has failed on that account.

Fifth, inclusive nation-building and nation-building must be revisited. Zimbabwe’s state building – constructing and strengthening state institutions –  and nation-building, developing a shared sense of identity and vision – failed from the beginning. Zimbabwe was stillborn in 1980.

It needs reconstitution.

The good thing, though, State-building’ is  seen  as  the task of building functioning  states  capable of  fulfilling  the essential attributes of modern  statehood.  

‘Nation-building’,  on the other hand,  refers to more abstract process  of  developing a  shared  sense of  identity or community  among  the various groups making up the  population  of  a particular state. 

Distinguished in this way, ‘state-building’ focuses  on the practical task  of building or  strengthening  state institutions,  while  ‘nation-building’ is  more  concerned with  the  character of relations between citizens  and  their  state.

State-building’ is  seen  as  the task of building functioning  states  capable of  fulfilling  the essential attributes of modern  statehood.  

‘Nation-building’,  on the other hand,  refers to more abstract process  of  developing a  shared  sense of  identity or community  among  the various groups making up the  population  of  a particular state. 

Distinguished in this way, ‘state-building’ focuses  on the practical task  of building or  strengthening  state institutions,  while  ‘nation-building’ is  more  concerned with  the  character of relations between citizens  and  their  state.

Though widely used, the term ‘nation-building’ remains imprecise and contested. In much  of the  policy  documentation,  its meaning  is  assumed rather  than  defined.

There is also  a tendency to  use the term ‘nation-building’  interchangeably with that of ‘state-building’. Despite this,  many observers would maintain that, while closely related, ‘state-building’ and ‘nation-building’ are distinct processes.

‘State-building’ is  seen  as  the task of building functioning  states  capable of  fulfilling  the essential attributes of modern  statehood.  ‘Nation-building’,  on the other hand,  refers to more abstract process  of  developing a  shared  sense of  identity or community  among  the various groups making up the  population  of  a particular state.  

Distinguished in this way, ‘state-building’ focuses  on the practical task  of building or  strengthening  state  institutions,  while  ‘nation-building’ is  more  concerned with  the  character of relations between citizens  and  their  state.

‘State-building’  has  long been a  focus of international  development  assistance  with  a  wide  range of  capacity-building programs directed  at  strengthening key institutions.

‘Nation-building’,  on the other hand,  has often been  viewed  as  a  more nebulous  process  with  a  limited role for external assistance.

 The good thing, though, is that diagnosis and prescription are known to everyone.

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