IN 2008, it took the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) six weeks to release the results of an election in which only 3.2 million people had voted. Given that last week’s American election attracted 133 million voters, going by their 2008 counting rate, it would take ZEC five years to count these votes, by which time another election would be due!
Within 24 hours of voting, most results had been released in America and a winner was already known. We did not see voters being turned away or multitudes being assisted to vote. This is what happens in a free and fair environment. America is notorious for street shootings given the abundance of firearms in the country. However, not a single shot was fired during the campaign period for the purpose of influencing the election outcome. Soldiers did not move around campaigning for a candidate and intimidating people to vote for either Clinton or Trump.
In Zimbabwe, elections turn our country into a war zone. Even recently in the Norton by‑election, all sorts of dirty tactics were employed by ZANU PF — ranging from vote buying to intimidation and violence against the opposition. Sadly, ZEC did nothing to stop this madness.
When one looks closely at the efficiency and transparency with which the American election was executed, it really makes ZEC look like a bunch of clowns. Running an election where less than 4 million voters usually cast their vote should not be a headache at all if there is nothing to hide. Not long ago, simple financial transactions in Zimbabwe were done in billions and trillions yet ZEC struggles to count up to 3 million!
Another lesson from the American election is that the time for career politicians is inevitably coming to an end. World sentiment is now shifting towards pragmatic men and women who can deliver regardless of who they are. Hillary Clinton spent most of her adult life in active politics and yet Americans elected Donald Trump who was only distantly connected to politics until he surprisingly entered the presidential race which he unexpectedly won. The strong message Americans sent by voting Trump is that it is time for change.
Zimbabwe needs her own positive disruption. Come 2018, that is exactly what people should deliver through voting for real change. The status quo is just no longer tenable. in fact, it has not been for a long time. It is time for our own Trump, a totally new face to take our nation into a different direction.Advertisement
We have two tools to make this happen: register to vote in huge numbers and turning up to vote as well as making progress on the coalition front. There has been a lot of “noise” regarding a coalition with some protagonists even going to the extent of imposing the nature, form and composition of the coalition by dictating who will get what position. That is silly and immature. A serious coalition must be formed through a serious process and framework not misguided pronouncements influenced by the excitement of winning a by-election.
There are times when I think that a good number of Zimbabweans do not understand what a coalition is and what it is meant to achieve. There seems to be people who think that coalition is synonymous with acquisition or absorption of other parties. That is a very simplistic view. ZANU PF’s absorption of ZAPU in 1987 must not be seen as a model or template for coalitions. There is need to apply ourselves fully and give this subject the serious consideration it deserves. It does not take rocket science to understand that, if the opposition parties do not unite ahead of the 2018 election, ZANU PF will romp to victory. We will have only ourselves to blame.
On voter registration, remember your right to vote is your last tool in your arsenal. When all is said and done, the last weapon you hold is your right to vote. It is your badge of honour. Don’t say that you will not vote because ZANU PF will rig the election. If more people go out there and vote it will be harder for ZANU PF to rig elections. We saw this in 2008 and had Morgan Tsvangirai pushed harder, he would have got the presidency.
In America if all Democrats had gone out to vote who knows what would have happened? Everyone’s vote counts and matters. President Obama called for it but sadly not everyone listened. The current protests could have been avoided had everyone gone out there to vote. So, for goodness sake go out there and register now and vote in 2018. DON’T say elections have been rigged if you have not voted. It is entirely your fault!!!
Let us come together in 2018 and do to Mugabe and ZANU PF what Donald Trump did to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in 2016. It is possible!
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim Secretary General of ZUNDE
www.zunde.org ; firstname.lastname@example.org