Cdes and friends, it’s been a while since I last delivered a political piece. However, due to events in the past few weeks in the Zim political landscape, i felt compelled to deliver on this topic which has been lingering on my mind for the past few years.
Youths, particularly Zimbabwean “youthies” have often been afflicted with the pandemic of voter apathy, possibly due to 2 major causes- 1. The lack of political consciousness and education 2. The lack of experience of economic and political normalcy(especially those born after 1990), unless if born in the diaspora. I hope by the end of this piece, a few more youths will understand, and also share understanding on why it is soooo important to vote.
By design, or not, the political elites in Zimbabwe have created a brand of emotional fatigue amongst youths and urbanites, whereas they’ve been made to feel as if “hurumende haibviswe nepenzura”(governments don’t get changed through a pen) meaning that even if one votes for change, the gun will always rule the roost. Another commonly spread legend is that “vachangorigger” meaning even if you vote they will always rig. It is an open secret that urbanites in Zimbabwe or even on social media are often infiltrated by agents who try to vaguely dissuade young people from taking part in voting through discouragement and vague threats.
This sort of thinking has trivialized voting to being an exercise merely meant for regime change, or to determine who will be in charge of government. Voting is WAY above a mere political exercise of choosing who must or must not be in government. Rather, voting is the only guaranteed peaceful expression of a citizen’s voice in favor or against the prevailing status quo in terms of policy, OR the perceived envisaged policies. In Shona there is an idiom which says “Shoko harivhikwe”, literally meaning no one can bat away a voice! Once a voice has been expressed it will reach its destination whether accepted or not! Even the army knows what the voice of the people entails!
Believe it or not, there is no politician, even the most vile of dictators and autocrats who is not afraid of the combined voice of the citizen. I will call the combined voice of the citizenry “legitimacy of the people”. If you do not believe me, just see how much a one party state like China will always control the narrative reaching it’s people, and ensures that the internal party elections are forthright. Or see how in a pseudo democracy like Russia the ruling party will vigorously campaign and ensure the people have a bright image of the regime. You can also see how the conservatives in America will try to ensure black and other non white voters are disenfranchised. Closer to home, you can see how Mugabe failed to govern alone even if he claimed a “landslide” victory in 2008 election run off.
In the USA, despite the monopoly of the big 2, you will see there are parties which have never had a seat in the legislature but still exist after a century or more, just because they have a particular cause or voice they wish to express. Now in several countries we have had the Green parties which stood on the cause of a greener earth, whose ideas have now seeped into the mainline parties due to constant lobbying and a consistent stand by a few citizens.
The greatest error a Zimbabwean graduate based in Bulawayo can make is to allow an 80 year old mbuya based in Uzumba, driven to vote by a sabhuku with 2 litres of cooking oil, become the image of the “legitimacy of the people” to the elite. Apathy is a double vote for the status quo, it is a silent yes to whatever is prevailing, and also provides no rebuttal for those who endorse the status quo!
Politicians are driven by what we may call delusions of grandeur. This is a egoistical feeling that they gain from believing that they have all the power in the world and that they are so loved by the people that they or their party will rule forever. That’s why you see them using the term “kutonga”(rule) instead of the term “kutungamirira” (leading or governing). Landslide victories inflate their egos, they relax and start feeling indispensable. However electoral defeats or even the loss of poll percentages are often a rude awakening which lead to change with or without regime change.
We also need to take note of the fact that over the last century, millions of lives have been lost fighting for the right to vote, with a share of thousands in Zimbabwe. Such loss of lives must not be allowed to be a worthless stain upon history. It is your basic right to vote and the only platform that allows a citizen to chose who best represents their interests at the helm of government.
If you are not yet registered to vote in Zimbabwe, I implore you to look for your friend and visit the ZEC offices and mobile centers tomorrow and proudly announce yourself as a registered voter! I also implore all citizens based in the diaspora to make their way home to register to vote and also encourage those at home to do the same. Remember, SHOKO HARIVHIKWE, whether rigged or not one cannot unhear a spoken word!
In my next piece I will touch on what the job of an MP is all about! The political elite has reduced the role of an MP to being “munhu wema projects” and other funny things which have led to unrealistic promises and expectations!