Is democ­racy really the best?

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion - Spec­trum Jo­ram Ny­athi

DEMOC­RACY is the worst form of gov­ern­ment ex­cept for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” “The best ar­gu­ment against democ­racy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the av­er­age voter.” We shall re­vert to these quo­ta­tions shortly. I didn’t want to make ref­er­ence to SI 64 again this week. I know very lit­tle about how an economy works. In­stead, I would have loved to com­ment at length on Amer­ica’s Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump.

Like I have said in the past, I love him for his forthright­ness. Given a chance, I would love to spend more time in the com­pany of peo­ple such as Trump and for­mer apartheid leader PW Botha.

They make you learn a few tricks about telling peo­ple truth that hurts. Botha didn’t think much of blacks of whom he said they could not plan their lives be­yond a day. It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

That’s his view from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. Let’s hear Trump the bil­lion­aire who speaks his mind. At the re­cent Repub­li­can con­ven­tion, he was con­fronted by re­porters for the New York Times to com­ment on a wide range of is­sues, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy. He was re­minded of Bush and Amer­ica’s self-anointed role as a global cru­sader for the opium of democ­racy and hu­man rights.

In­stead, Trump seems to have picked up the mir­ror and face Amer­ica her­self, like this clip:

SANGER (reporter): “Er­do­gan (Turk­ish leader who had just sup­pressed a coup) put nearly 50 000 peo­ple in jail or sus­pend them, sus­pended thou­sands of teach­ers, he im­pris­oned many in the mil­i­tary and the po­lice, he dis­missed a lot of the ju­di­ciary.

“Does this worry you? And would you rather deal with a strong­man who’s also been a strong ally, or with some­body that’s got a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of civil lib­er­ties than Mr Er­do­gan has? Would you press him to make sure the rule of law ap­plies?”

TRUMP: “I think right now when it comes to civil lib­er­ties, our coun­try has a lot of prob­lems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get in­volved in other coun­tries when we don’t know what we are do­ing and we can’t see straight in our own coun­try.

“We have tremen­dous prob­lems when you have po­lice­men be­ing shot in the streets, when you have ri­ots, when you have Fer­gu­son. When you have Bal­ti­more.

“When you have all of the things that are hap­pen­ing in this coun­try — we have other prob­lems, and I think we have to fo­cus on those prob­lems.

“When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil lib­er­ties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

There was more said. Suf­fice to note here that Trump re­fused to in­dulge the reporter’s hypocrisy of Amer­ica’s mes­sianic role about “civil lib­er­ties” and “rule of law”.

There is a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween an ideal and what the re­al­ity de­mands at a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment. I could go on.

But I found myself drawn back to mother Earth by the busi­ness head­lines in the pri­vate me­dia yes­ter­day, all against the back­drop of Zanu-PF’s “clue­less” poli­cies since 1980. (Yes, ac­cord­ing to these sages the his­tory of the black man’s mis­ery be­gins with in­de­pen­dence. Colo­nial rule was our golden era, hit­ting the zenith un­der Ian Smith — a ring­ing en­dorse­ment of Botha’s ob­ser­va­tion.) Here is a sam­ple of the head­lines: Dai­lyNews: “Trade deficit drops”, “Zim gears for cash­less economy”, “Stan­bic Bank of­fers ex­cit­ing home loans”, and “Harare can do it.”

News­Day and its “South­ern Eye” ver­sion: “Goods im­port ban un­con­sti­tu­tional: Ver­i­tas”, “Court clears anti-Govt demo”, “Mpilo hospi­tal gets new ma­ter­nity equip­ment”, “In­flux of cheap im­ports hurt Zim firms”, “ZSE bounces back”, “Govt set to re­vive Di­maf ”, “GetCash launches mo­bile money app”.

Now dear reader, set these truth­ful head­lines of Thurs­day July 28, 2016, against State me­dia “pro­pa­ganda” of the same day led by the flag­ship, The Her­ald: “Brain­works un­veils GetCash plat­form”, “Zim im­ports fall 13,3 per­cent”, “Govt to make Di­maf big­ger, ac­ces­si­ble”, “Chi­na­masa urges banks to rise to com­pe­ti­tion”, “Govt can do more on cor­po­rate gov­er­nance.”

Af­ter look­ing at all these head­lines of truth ver­sus pro­pa­ganda, I re­called the open­ing quotes to this ar­ti­cle, both as­cribed to Win­ston Churchill; “Democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment ex­cept for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

“The best ar­gu­ment against democ­racy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the av­er­age voter.”

A his­to­rian ma­jor­ing on Churchill, Richard M Lang­worth, dis­putes that the Bri­tish war time Prime Min­is­ter made the first ob­ser­va­tion. What is how­ever undis­puted is that Churchill was a brainy Bri­ton and re­cently over­took the bard, Wil­liam Shake­speare as the great­est Bri­ton who ever lived.

That said, I have no reser­va­tions about his ob­ser­va­tions. First, hu­mans are free moral agents. We all have a lim­it­less ca­pac­ity to think although we might not al­ways think like we have the ca­pac­ity to. So, Let’s en­joy our democ­racy.

The sec­ond quo­ta­tion is a bit prob­lem­atic; “The best ar­gu­ment against democ­racy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the av­er­age voter.” The pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments con­veyed in the head­lines run across me­dia houses.

It is not Her­ald pro­pa­ganda. Yet when it suits the pol­i­tics, we are as­sailed daily by news of an in­ex­orably dying economy, a clue­less Gov­ern­ment. Who’s mak­ing the most ar­dent ar­gu­ment against democ­racy here? Who is the av­er­age voter?

“Goods im­port ban un­con­sti­tu­tional: Ver­i­tas”, “Court clears anti-Govt demo”. These have be­come the stock-in-trade of the pri­vate me­dia.

Demon­stra­tions have be­come the in-thing against Gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure “to stop the eco­nomic rot”.

The same will hap­pily cam­paign that the “in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity” should not help the Mu­gabe regime. That in­cludes cur­rent spir­ited ap­peals to Bri­tain and Amer­ica to use their vote to block any plans by the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund to ex­tend lines of credit to Zimbabwe. (I am op­posed to the IMF and World Bank as lenders or eco­nomic ad­vi­sors but for com­pletely dif­fer­ent rea­sons.) Turn to page 8

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.