By Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo
What are perceptions? The ability to hear, see or become aware of something through sense.
Definition 2 : The way in which something is regarded, or understood, or interpreted.
3. Refers to set of processes we use to make sense of different ” stimuli” we’re presented with.
Our perceptions are based on how interpret different sensations.
Now let me go back to my main presentation. Proactively, I would like to pick definition number 2 &4, which gives a clear narration of our situation on the ground. We have a pre -supposition which we must fix to draw certain parameters using our current context.
We have comparative politics, where Mugabe was the Zanu PF leader and Government, since 1980 till November 2017, and we have Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu PF leader since November 2017, till date. The two leaders are totally different, the way they handled leadership contest, the ability to derive power, and the proximity of politics. Markets reacts to politics, even before you make policy statements, the general public give their own perceptions and sentiments over someone.
We had the late former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai from 1999 – 2018, and we have Nelson Chamisa , from 2018 till now. Apparently we have different political contestants and perceptions. Mugabe would go to address a rally in places where he was regarded an enemy, he would leave people in stitches, people would regroup to confront him, the moment he arrives, no one would dare him.
That was Mugabe for you. He would make jokes like, ” I was a teacher before, and I left teaching, because I observed, it was not enough to cater for my needs”. The moment, he arrived on the airport, prices for basic commodities would begin to go down, after his usual gagging with journalists. He had a sense of commanding on him, and he had the experience of how to deal with certain leadership attributes.
The sense of political acumen was part of him, and he would make bold decisions. On the other hand, we have Emmerson Mnangagwa, who dared people in Kuwadzana, when he said try vegetables, meat is very very expensive, try green vegetation and potatoes, and there was a huge outcry, and the markets reacted negatively.
I remember, Mugabe, shortly his politburo appearance, he would start by greeting politburo members, and on this other day, he greeted Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, and he vehemently said ” You are in the wrong basket…” , and he left everyone in stitches. You know what it means when Mugabe thunders in such a way.
Mugabe would not mix his words. During the run up to 2018 elections in Bindura, when Mnangagwa was addressing his star rally, people started running away from the rally, and security had to deploy more officers to prevent further political misery and embarrassment.
What went wrong?
This is what Zanu PF leadership should be dealing with, if they want to gain sympathy and manage political anger and perceptions. Any move that ED wants to make, before any decision is made, people would have already made up their minds and prepared for that. Why is it like that? This is a big question which leadership must objectively deal with. Some may say political legitimacy which I tend to differ.
What about Lungu in Zambia? Even after rigging allegations, he managed to retain Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces, which are urban inclined. Preferably, urban citizens, align themselves with opposition, if they are not on political goodwill with the serving ruling party. Lungu is the ruling party, and he controls the urban areas of Zambia, mostly, 70%. Even during Mugabe era, corruption was there, but citizens would easily ignore that, though, there was an uproar, people would easily forget. So what went wrong with the current leadership?
I’m going to respond on this one.
1. PR stunt for ED & Government is too weak
If you make a proper analysis, you will find that ED chose a wrong team to deal with his public relations. People easily compare, the previous regime and the current one, and they easily make conclusions. There is need for ED to make an overhaul of his PR team, and the way he appeals to the public.
2. Lack of political capital
The capital one requires to reign leadership is not part of the current leadership. There is need to restore the sense of political capital. Even if people are not for you, there is need for that fourth sense, which restores the ” capital portrait”, to run the country.
3. Political advisory is critical
Mnangagwa’ s political nemesis and arch – rivalry, Nelson Chamisa, is just 42 and ED is close to 80 now. There is a gap already between the two main contestants.
What should you do to close the gap? The gap must be filled. You need political advisory which fills the gap. Look at the cabinet, it reflects the old generation ( 65 – 78). There is need for balance act. You need to match the current generation. 80 percent of citizens are on twitter, and you are on something else. What is that society wants? You need to address the concerns of the society. You cannot easily ignore such circumstances, you need to reflect, and deal with reality. There is absolutely a gap which needs to be filled.
During the 2008 period, few days before the GNU, the inflation rate was over 500 %. When Tsvangirai came into office, the official rate went down. Where is the problem?
There is no trust. The public perception over the Government needs to be corrected. Political and Economic perceptions needs to be dealt with. There is need for a new tone on how the Government runs the country. Who controls the market? Who controls the public perception? Who is around the President to give him advisory service? Who must correct the perception? Corruption is there, and it will always be there, but you need to address the issue of ” Perceptions” , and address it.
Surely, perceptions must be dealt with as a matter of urgency !!!
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking – ZIST, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org