By Sydney Kawadza
In the United States politics, there is what is known as the Political Courage Test, an initiative intended to increase transparency in the gruelling tussle to lead the American people.
Formerly known as the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), the test is part of the voter education organization Project Vote Smart’s candidate information program.
The test seeks to obtain answers from election candidates, describing their respective stances on a variety of popular issues in American politics.
This information is then made available to voters in a selection-driven, standardized format.
The Project Vote Smart website states that the test asks candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?”
The Political Courage Test comes into mind as yet another political party was launched in Harare with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission indicating that the country now has more than 200 parties.
The number of political parties in Zimbabwe being an issue for another day, the NewsDay this week asked Freshman Rodger Gwasira-Makoni the same question after he launched the Progressive People’s Party in Harare.
Born of the Chingaira lineage in Makoni District, Manicaland province, Gwasira-Makoni answered the question with an emphatic “yes” that one could only cherish the prospects of taking him to task over his answer.
The next question was obviously his decision to launch yet another party when the six million registered voters out of the Zimbabwe’s population of 15 million is a turf for the well-established Zanu PF and the exciting Citizens Coalition for Change.
“I am learning that (plus 200 political parties) for the first time, but it doesn’t come as a shock to me, it’s a reflection of the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
“It’s a sign of pain and a vote of no confidence to the current government. The difference is evident and anyone can see that the youths have been neglected for so long and no one has us in mind until today.
“Those who talk about youths, they are doing it out of selfish reasons, to use us to advance their interests and continue to amass wealth to themselves and their families,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni added: “I am very much aware of the consequences of having a different view from that of the elite few. But there is no freedom without paying a price.
“Our forefathers paid a supreme price during the liberation struggle. We too, even for me; it would be an honour to pay the price on behalf of the Zimbabwean nation.”
Born of the late Benjamin and Dorcas Gwasira, the 40-year-old politician said he was not new into seeking leadership positions.
“I have been a church leader since I was 19 years old, serving God through His people as an Apostle. In my line of work I have interacted with numerous political leaders at levels one can never think of while assisting in advisory services and counsel in several parts of Africa.
“In 2010, a Woman of God; Pastor Cooper, whom I was meeting for the first time in my life told me she got a Word from God after we finished a conference and it was declared: ‘I had served enough in the Church, it was time to focus fully on politics.’
“As if that was not enough: In January 2018, I visited the SCOAN to meet the Senior and General Overseer Prophet TB Joshua, immediately the Word of God came to me – “this (politics) would be my purpose, to lead the people in politics.””
Gwasira-Makoni said he has been preparing for the task ever since the encounters adding that the time had arrived to start on this journey.
“Beyond contradiction, we know and it is a well proven fact that leaders are Anointed and Appointed by God. We are banking our support on all the masses of Zimbabwean people, particularly on the youth in all our 10 provinces.
“This is their party that seeks to serve Zimbabweans through modern ways, latest technology and inclusivity with profound and prolific ideal methods of equality among the Zimbabwean citizenry,” he said.
On facing the gigantic task of facing Zanu PF strongman and Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the charismatic CCC leader Neslon Chamisa, Gwasira-Makoni acknowledged the battle that lies ahead.
“Yes, they have been in this battle for too long hence the more reason they should all retire and pave way for a vibrant people’s movement – the PPP or they should both consider to be in the opposition,” he said.
“The people are tired of listening to politics of cynicism and violence. They are hungry for; peace, tolerance, progress, and development on Zimbabwean Soil.
“They can’t wait to hear and experience the battle of ideas. At the end of the day that’s what politicking is all about.”
He said in the PPP’s research, it was discovered that Zimbabweans are keen and ready to support new ideas that push the needs of the people.
“I may be a leader on the front-line. But this is a movement: Of The People, By The People, For The People.
“Consequently, this movement came after a thorough consultation with Zimbabweans, it’s safe to say, this is a product of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
One would wonder why Gwasira-Makoni decided to go it alone instead of joining the well-established political parties in Zimbabwe.
“As I have said, this is the people’s choice, so going to join other parties would be denying the people their hope for the change they long for and in dire need. I think it won’t be fair for the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni said solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems lies with the Zimbabweans and working with the PPP will be the key to unlock solutions to the problems.
“But I would to reiterate that politics is rather a game of well communicated, vibrant and realistic ideas. Ideas that are applicable to the challenges on the ground. I think if these ideas are not projected or properly presented to the people, they are likely not to be persuaded,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni said he was working with veteran politicians and technocrats that are in full support of his vision.
“We have been in consultation with some senior politicians and numerous technocrats whom you will start seeing soon.
“We are advising our supporters to go and register to vote. I would also want to take this opportunity to encourage someone here now, to go and register to vote.”
He dismissed suggestions that he was in politics for personal gains.
“Well, I really can’t change people’s beliefs. But that is the true essence and benefits of a democratic society that we aspire to inspire.
“But as for me, I am into politics for my social responsibility and obligation. More from; ‘what I can do for my country, kind of spirit?’
“I ascribe to the intellect that, if you are not happy about something; Do something to change it. Therefore, to someone out there whether you are inland or across our boarders, please I am pleading with you now to come and register to vote.
“Remember, the process may require your patience and sacrifice, but, please don’t give up… Make sure you have registered, let’s all vote in our millions next year.”
He said his vision is for Zimbabwe to regain its status as a continental leader in all spheres.
“I want to see Zimbabwe becoming the best in Africa – rising to her former glory. The best in: Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Industry, Mining, Innovation, and Infrastructure Development.
“I want to see us build high-rise buildings, our minerals feeding our people, providing free education, providing health care for free and giving our people basic needs like clean water in their homes.
“I want a Zimbabwe where our workers are given meaningful wages. I want Zimbabwe to be a proud nation.
“When introducing themselves they must quickly say; ‘I come from Zimbabwe’, with no stigma or low self-esteem attached on them. Zimbabwe must be home a blessed people, with all other nations coming here in Zimbabwe for their holiday seasons.”
He said the PPP has plenty of ideas to transform Zimbabwe to its true potential.
“Firstly, we need to restore confidence and trust to all our people in their government, government systems – from the judiciary, monetary, fiscus and an education system that is tailor made for Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.”
He said his party would also focus on unleashing the Zimbabwean energy.
“Zimbabweans have become despondent with little or no enthusiasm to work and develop their communities and country at large because of long lost hope.
“Thirdly, we will privatize most parastatal and state enterprises while we will also be working on addressing currency issue by backing the Central Bank with real and enough gold and other minerals.
“But of course, we would have rid of all manner of corruption and the corrupt people in the systems whose interest and intentions now are self-serving, not serving national interest and purpose.”
As Gwasira-Makoni talked of his dreams for Zimbabwe, it also became evident that the country’s plight continues to touch so many people.
With so many people interested in the revival of this forgotten and crumpling giant which, could in one good time, rise like a Phoenix.
Lastly, Zimbabwe has 200 political parties and more are coming, what an exciting journey ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections.