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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 33
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
June 28, 2012

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Village Observer

Plato, arguing many centuries ago, grappled with the question we face today: Who should rule? And by extension, How. Plato's thesis was to have a few ruling many. This was a response to the then Athenian democracy where issues were argued at a public square. Anyone could raise or contribute issues. In other words, Plato was for representative democracy. Something we have in parliament today. However, if Plato were to suddenly appear in Zimbabwe today, I doubt if the representative democracy he advocated is what we are witnessing today. If anything, the Parliament has become the square of the Athenian democracy where instead of the “elected” officials speaking on behalf of the people that chose them, they are speaking of anything that comes to their heads. The results are there for all of us to see. We have a dysfunctional parliament to be harsh. Take a look at what was achieved by Parly since 1980. Is it the best that we expected from the Honourable Members? Can we not have more informed debate, let alone correct grammar. English is our second language and we are not very fluent. But is it not proper to use a language that not only comes naturally to you but also make sure that your expressions are put forward correctly? My friend, Matigari, was having a field day laughing at me. He had an old torn Hansard, we could not make the date, but our village analysis showed that it is post 2008 as the names contained showed. He was looking at each page, laughing. “Even if I do not read, I can tell from the interjections, that nothing is coming out here,” he said. We counted three interjections on one column. Not intelligent but run off the mill type which we do not entertain even at the local drinking hole. Is this the Parliament we think will produce good laws as well as watch the other pillars of the state? Then it dawned to me that the reason why we may have problems with some of the laws can be a result of the sleeping MPs. They may be wide awake but only open their mouths to make unnecessary interjections. This then brought me to reading Plato. The questions he raised in those works written for him or about him. Who should lead/rule. Should we, as the people of Zimbabwe, surrender all we have in terms of democratic rights to these jokers? When should we say enough is enough and how? Should we wait for elections? Or the current constitution should have a recall clause? Do we think the current constitutional path, led by Parliament, will OK a recall clause? Was it ever mentioned. Then we will have to grapple with the second question: How should they rule? The problem is that we may not address this one for as long as we have not fully addressed the first on who should rule. It seems in Zimbabwe, we are stuck on the first question.

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