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The voice of the people is NOT the voice of God

Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency

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Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency.

Although, Zimbabwe is, by far, not new to blasphemy by politicians – having witnessed the shameful comparison of Mugabe to our Lord Jesus Christ, and baseless claims by shadowy prophets that he had been specifically anointed by God to lead the nation, and no one was supposed to challenge him – but, the continued abuse of Jehovah’s name is worrying, to say the least.

Possibly, as a direct result of Mugabe’s claim that he was specifically appointed by God to lead this country – and that only He could remove him – those who ousted him have sought to justify their actions by insinuating that their actions were inspired by God.

Otherwise, how else can one explain the now all too familiar mantra claiming that, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”?

First of all, as every Zimbabwean knows, Mugabe was not removed by the people, but by the military, as he was held under house arrest, whilst being pushed to resign.

The call for people to go out onto the streets to call for his resignation was just a smokescreen for what was truly happening behind the scenes, in order to give impression of a popular uprising, so as to camouflage the military action – and, as in fact did happen, avoid international ramifications.

Let us not forget that the call for mass action came after the military had already intervened.

This, by any stretch of the imagination, can never be said to be the voice of God!

Secondly, even if we were to accept that what transpired last November was indeed a popular uprising, what justification is there to claim that this was the voice of God?

Since when has God spoken through popular or mass action?

As much as I am a firm believer in democracy and democratic values, we should separate these from the voice of God – as these are fundamentally divorced from each other.

God does not – and has never worked – through mass or popular action.
In fact, most acts of rebellion against God in the Bible were carried out through popular and mass action.

A couple of examples immediately come to mind – for instance, the mass call for God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ to be crucified – nearly everyone cried, “crucify Him!”.

That was not the voice of God.

Another example is when the children of Israel constantly demanded that they be returned to bondage in Egypt, whenever their plight in the wilderness became unbearable – even leading to them creating an idol for them to worship when Moses was up the mountain talking with God.

Furthermore, the children of Israel, later on, collectively demanded a human king from the prophet Samuel – an act that greatly pained God, as it was a direct rejection of His rule.

Several times, from that point onwards, the children of Israel – together as a mass – disobeyed God, as they made their own popular decisions that were not directed by Him.

It is, thus, clear that God never spoke through the people as a collective.
In fact, the true voice of God was always met with resistance from the people, as it was highly unpopular – and it came through His genuine prophets.
If ever there were to be Gallup polls in those days, the people with the lowest approval ratings would have been the genuine prophets of God – as the voice of the people was always contrary to that of God.

Even during the days of the apostles, the voice of God that they spoke of was seldom received well, as it was not the voice of the people – leading to widespread persecution and even death.

Similarly, today is not any different – as the voice of the people is surely not the voice of God.

The desires of humans are always mostly of the world and of the flesh, and are not necessarily of the Spirit and inspired by God.

Similarly, Zimbabweans’ heed to go onto the streets in November last year, was inspired more by long-term suffering and pain that they had endured under Mugabe, than an instruction from God.

There was never any genuine prophet of God who had come forward to lead the nation with a direct message from Him – as did Moses – in calling for Mugabe to “let His people go”.

What Zimbabwe, and the world over, lacks are genuine prophets of God – who are truly sent and speak His instructions.

As I have written so many times before, what we have today are mere soothsayers, predictors and healers – from whose power only themselves know – who are more like sangomas, rather than prophets of Jehovah God, who relay His messages.

They are better at predicting what is going to happen, or telling someone their phone numbers, and healing the sick, than actually transmitting messages from God.

The genuine prophets of God were instructed by Him to convey very important messages, and even to appoint leaders that He would have specifically chosen – whilst, at the same time keeping those leaders in check.
Which leaders, have our so-called prophets today, ever appointed as a direct instruction from God?

If the current leadership is truly from God, which prophet was sent to appoint and announce them?

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I do not recall ever seeing or hearing of a prophet who was sent to announce to Mugabe that God had said that he should step down, and anointing a new leader – as did Samuel when he told Saul, whom he had anointed earlier on, that God had rejected him, after anointing David.

Even Father Fidelis Mukonori – who was heavily involved in the talks between the military and Mugabe leading to his resignation – at no point, did he ever claim that he had carried a message from God for Mugabe to step down, and Mnangagwa to take over – but, made it very clear that he was just one of the negotiators.

In fact, that is why the current leadership would rather hide behind “the voice of the people’” because God never sent any prophet to appoint them.

Predicting a future leader, or the death of a leader, is not prophecy from God, but mere soothsaying – just as a sangoma would do – but, God directly sends His prophets to be directly involved in the appointment of His chosen leader.

Genuine prophets rebuked and corrected those leaders whenever they went against God’s word, as did Samuel to Saul – when he disobeyed His instructions – and Nathaniel to David – after he had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife.

Similarly, other prophets as Elijah and Elisha were sent by God to rebuke and carry instructions to kings and the people – whose messages proven highly unpopular.

However, today we have populist prophets, who are after making as many powerful friends as possible, so as to freely make their millions of dollars from fleecing the people, and shoddy dealings.

They would rather sup with leaders, even when they are corrupt, or abusing and oppressing their own people.

Genuine prophets of God are not there to make friends, or please any section of society, but are strictly there to convey what Jehovah would have instructed them – most of which makes them more enemies than friends, especially from the ruling elite, and the general population, as most of us are prone to go against God’s Word.

If ever we witness a so-called prophet who says or does things that are meant to endear him or herself to a certain section of society, then they are not of God – as with biblical times, genuine prophets were more isolated and hated by nearly everyone.

Yet, these so-called prophets we have today seek favour from men (people), especially from those in power, or the general population – so that they may attend their churches and give them money.

Therefore, as much as leaders would want to be accepted by the people, or to win democratic elections, there can never be any justification to blasphemy against Jehovah – and it is such a shame that those who claim to be men and women of God never stand up against such acts.

The voice of the people is through the democratic process, but the voice of God is through His genuine prophets – and the two are very different.

As a relatively democratic country, Zimbabweans should campaign freely and peacefully – based purely on their policies and manifestoes – but, should never ever abuse the sacred name of God for their selfish political gains.

God is not against democracy, but let us pray for His blessings for our nation, without bringing His name into disrepute – as that will only spell further disaster for our nation.

Commentator: Tendai Ruben Mbofana.
He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice).

Strictly Personal

Direct or indirect primaries: The uniting factor is moneybag politics by Afe Babalola

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THE Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) provides for the system of nomination of candidates by political par ties through primary elections ahead of presidential, state governorship, and legislative houses elections. Section 84(1) of the Electoral Act provides that a political party seeking to nominate candidates for election under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission. Subsection 2 provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.

Direct primaries, as described in subsection 4 of the Act, connotes that the members of the political party will be given equal opportunity to vote for a party member of their choice as the nominated candidate of the party. It involves the participation of all registered members of a party in the selection of the party’s candidates. Indirect primaries, on the other hand, is a system whereby members of the political party democratically elect delegates at the party’s congress and, in turn, the delegates elect the party’s candidates on behalf of the members of the political party. Sections 5-8 of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) generally stipulates the procedure for the conduct of indirect primaries in Nigeria.

The third category, and perhaps the least commonly adopt ed, is the system of consensus candidacy whereby all aspirants in the political party will voluntarily and expressly withdraw from the primaries and endorse a single candidate; and where there is no such express withdrawal, the political party will mandatorily proceed to conduct direct or indirect primaries. Section 9 of the Act provides as follows: 9 (a) A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate; (b) Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective positions. (c) A Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.

Over the years, the choice of whether a party should adopt direct or indirect primaries has been the subject of debate by political pundits, commentators, and aspirants. The system of indirect primaries which most political parties adopt has been criticized for being easier to manipulate by party lead ers, and on their part, the delegates are expected to align with the party leadership. Another inherent defect in the conduct of indirect primaries includes some instances of the dubious manner of appointment of delegates. For instance, where a sitting Governor or President’s political appointees are made the party’s delegates, it is not in doubt that their nominations will ultimately favour their appointor’s political interest. Be sides, it is not uncommon to find dissimilar delegates’ selection at party congresses, conventions and primaries. On the other hand, the criticism of direct primaries is that it is a lot more expensive to operate and requires much more planning and organization. It is also more easily manipulated. For in stance, a strong contender in a political party can sponsor the members of his own political party to purchase membership cards of the opposition party en masse in order for such members to deliberately vote for a weaker candidate in the said opposition party to win the primaries, thereby giving him an edge in the general elections.

Notwithstanding the obvious differences in the conduct of direct and indirect primaries, there however exists no real difference because of the association of Nigerian politics with godfatherism and moneybag politics. Though it is easier to bribe fewer delegates to support a faction of the party as op posed to the reduced propensity to tilt the votes of all members of the political party to one candidate if direct primaries were held, it still does not change the fact that the underlying factor is the ability of a candidate to sway the few delegates, or the larger party members, with money.

In an interview published in the Punch newspaper on 19th June 2022, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party rep resenting the Ilaje/Ese Federal Constituency stated the im pact of money on politics. He reportedly said: “Except some are lying, it is real. Our politics is monetised. The process is monetised. Some will just come and tell you that they never pay money. They paid money. We paid money to delegates. There is no way you can survive that hurricane without effectively and efficiently releasing resources for those people (delegates). Whether you have served them for seven years and you have been their perpetual or perennial friend, it is not going to count. You just have to do the needful at that point. Again, if you don’t do it, they will not vote for you. This is because it is not just one aspirant or candidate that is doing that; it is a system. You will give what the system is asking for. There is a stimulus that the system is pumping and which the electorate will have to react to. It is not the fault of those who are currently in power or those that are seeking to come to power, it is not their fault… If you are the best (among the aspirants), you will pay; if you are the worst, you will still pay. It is just a systemic thing. Those who eventually won, it is still the same. In my area, we had three very strong contenders. We paid equally and people made their choice on who they wanted. The three people (aspirants) paid equal amounts of money. They (delegates) collected money from the three of us and made their choice on who they wanted.”

The bold admission by the honourable member of the House of Representatives excerpted above is the reality of the Nigerian political climate today. The influence of moneybags in Nigerian politics continues to hold sway in dampening the hopes of the nation in achieving true democracy. After all, the whole idea of democracy is the free will of the people in electing their political leaders, and where such “free will” is manipulated through the influence of political juggernauts, the country is further pulled away from the attainment of the best democratic policies. It accounts for the corruption and violence which have characterized many elections in Nigeria. On the day of the election, the politician who owes his nomi nation to his huge investments will naturally seek a win by any possible means. Where his reliance is placed on a political godfather, he can count on his godfather’s ability to deploy enormous wealth in a bid to corrupt electoral officials and the electorates and where these fail, violence will be deployed to bring about the desired result.

Consequently, the politician who wins an election based only upon the backing of his political godfather will feel no ob ligation to the electorate who in any event might have been disenfranchised in the whole scheme of events. He will there fore devote the entirety of his tenure of office to the promotion and satisfaction of himself, his cronies, and his godfather. There is an unhealthy synergy between godfatherism, money bag politics, and poverty. It is the entire citizenry who suffers the effect of political office holder’s obligation to recoup his investments and/or satisfy the whims of his godfather who, more often than not, are the actual persons in power.

AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, OFR, CON, LL.D (Lond.)

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Strictly Personal

Genuine politicians must die by Kenneth Amaeshi

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I often one wonder why people go into politics in Nigeria, because the challenges of the country are massive. Poor health systems. Low quality education. High youth unemployment and low skills. Hunger, poverty, and famine. Weak infrastructure and institutions. In addition, the politics appears dirty and bitter.

The usual but superficial reason people often offer is that they are keen to serve. If the lure of politics is to serve others, why would one subject oneself through the tortuous process of democratic elections in order to serve? Sleepless nights. Odd meetings. Very strange companies. Painful compromises.

A cynical view might suggest that whether a career in politics is pursued to serve or lord it over others, it is simply a quest for power. Of course, it is human and natural to seek dominion over others. But even at that, what then is the purpose of power and is politics the only means to exercise such powers?

Another view is that politics is simply business – in the sense that politicians financially invest in it and expect worthwhile returns on their investments. In such contexts, they may use money to influence votes. When politicians make such investments, they obviously expect some gains, and the higher the risks, the more the expected returns. However, politicians come in various shades.

Some politicians do not pretend about money politics. It is as clear as it can be. It is what it is – a very transactional engagement. It is all about their self-interests. This understanding makes it easy to attract like minds and to agree on expectations and outcomes. They often portray and pride themselves as the real masters of politics. Many people tend to agree with them, and they are unashamedly transparent about their strategies and aspirations. That’s how it is done. Anything short of this is naivety.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is and idea which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Other politicians prefer not to be very overt about their crude intentions and strategies. They rather mask them in some nebulous and grandiose cloaks – often packaged as a form of progressivism and intellectualism. However, beneath this garb of elegance and decency is a constantly warped and treacherous display of self-interest and greed packaged and sold as enlightenment. The main difference between the two categories is their strategies. While the former is overt, the latter is covert. Nonetheless, their goals are the same.

A third group is made up of politicians who are very idealistic and puritan in their approach. They have something to offer and truly want to serve, but they either do not understand the rules of the market for votes or they think they can change things by ignoring the rules and in most cases swimming against them. However, they hardly win elections because they rarely make any financial investments in the business of politics. As much as some voters may like what they represent, they rarely have sufficient incentives to patronize the politicians in this category. In the end, the politicians become cases of good products but unrealized potentials.

Unfortunately, the business of politics and pretentious service leadership are the bane of democracy and good governance in many countries. Sadly, too, they are often normalized and taken for granted. This normalization and taken-for-grantedness could be as a result of helplessness – because people – i.e., the electorate – do not know how to unravel and dismantle them.

However, no matter how they disguise, they can be unmasked effectively. In Nigeria, for example, where the elections season is simultaneously booming and looming, genuine politicians can be assessed by their preparedness to sacrifice and die for the good of Nigeria. Given where the country is today, especially with her challenges, it only needs politicians who are in it, not for their own sake, but for the growth and development of the country – i.e., politicians who are both competent and ethical. Anything short of this is simply an entrenchment of the status quo, which has not done the country any good.

Nigeria needs genuine political leaders who can literally take the proverbial bull by the horns. This will entail a lot of discomfort, political risks, sacrifices and even death. As scary as it may sound, genuine politicians are rarely deterred by it.

It is obvious that Nigeria is at war with the forces of underdevelopment and darkness. Anyone running against these forces, therefore, must be ready to die, because he who easily rushes to war should know that war is death – o ji oso agbakwuru ogu, omakwa na ogu bu onwu?

But how do we identify genuine politicians, given the confusion and obfuscation of personalities and personae in the system? One way to decipher genuine politicians is to look at their antecedents and ask some very pertinent questions. What have they achieved outside politics? What comforts and luxuries are they leaving or setting aside to serve? What sacrifices are they willing to make and or are making? Are they willing to die for Nigeria to thrive? As much as these questions may sound unrealistic, politicians who fit this mode are truly the sort of politicians Nigeria needs now.

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, offered an excellent idea of what genuine political leadership looks like in practice when he said:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is and idea which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” (emphasis, mine).

It is obvious that Nigeria is at war with the forces of underdevelopment and darkness. Anyone running against these forces, therefore, must be ready to die, because he who easily rushes to war should know that war is death – o ji oso agbakwuru ogu, omakwa na ogu bu onwu?

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