Time to get out





WHILE trying to come up with a suitable headline for this opinion piece, a sub editor typed: Can Zim political parties change for the better?

The chief sub editor read it, shook his head and then explained Betteridge’s law of headlines to the “sub”.
This law is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no”.

However, given an opportunity to answer the question posed by the sub, the supporters would very likely have responded that their political parties were already perfect.

But the sub would have found it difficult to dismiss the nagging worry that the supporters were in some kind of abusive relationships with their parties. Why? Because when you look into their eyes you will see that they are haunted by fear and insecurity. And just pretend you are not listening to them when they are talking among themselves about their parties, you will hear stories chilling enough to send shivers down your spine.

The unvarnished truth is that most of these supporters are suffering. Despite getting a raw deal they will still go to any lengths to defend their parties.

On one hand we have a type of leadership that seems to enjoy being in the background, playing second fiddle, and never making a real impact on the political scene to the detriment of its supporters. The leadership is characterised by childish tug-of-war like squabbles, where everyone aspires to be the party’s big boss. It is a pity that the leadership majors in ridiculous endeavours.

On the other hand we have a leadership that is in a comfort zone for it faces spineless rivals and strongly believes it will never be dislodged. Its supporters would rather die “martyrs” — backing the abusive powers to gain recognition — than “excommunicate” themselves from ill-treatment.

All the parties have something in common — the leaders are consumed in internal squabbles and factionalism, but act superior to supporters, behaving like they’re always right, know what is best, and are smarter than all—lording it over their “subjects”. They are aware of their members’ weaknesses and abuse them left, right and centre — treating them like they are not capable of thinking, but they still get a standing ovation from the supporters.

We all know that healthy relationships involve commitment, concern, respect and trust. Abusive relationships lack these qualities and are filled with mistreatment and pain.

Abuse manifests itself in many other forms. One such form is financial abuse, which is common with some political parties — a member may be financially dependent on their abusive party. Without money, it can seem impossible for members to opt out of the relationship since their livelihood is threatened.

You may wonder why the bleeding, battered and bruised supporters can’t just leave their abusive parties. It is said opting out is the most dangerous thing for a member, because abuse is about power and control. In fact when supporters opt out they are taking control and threatening the abusive party’s power.

It’s a numbers game so the outfit cannot countenance losing its membership. This causes the party to retaliate in brutal ways. When members think of leaving they are threatened with finding it cold out there.

Threats and intimidation are harmful forms of emotional abuse that can really hurt. There are many more signs to watch out for of abusive party-membership relationships, and some of them are:

* When your party is not doing enough to register meaningful progress but concentrates on power struggles.
* When it makes its people feel unworthy, for example it does not fulfil its promises but keeps telling supporters that it has their welfare at heart.
* When it twists the truth all the time and blames every one and anything but itself for its mistakes.
* When it is only concerned about getting what it wants — not concerned about the welfare of supporters, whose living standards continue to deteriorate.

It is said that people who are abused often accept it as their fate — that they believe they’re getting what they deserve. But abuse is never deserved; no one deserves to be mistreated. If you’re in an abusive party relationship, it’s time to break the chains of bondage — it’s high time to get out of it.

You should know that abusive leadership can often be charming if it wants, but don’t give yourself false hope that your party will change for the better — leaders who fail to realise that they are supposed to represent people will never change.


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