FOLLOWING the sitting of the Nomination Court on Friday, the electorate now knows who is standing for which ward or constituency and for which political party; in other words, the guessing game is over.
For those who made it through the primaries and had their nomination papers accepted by the Nomination Court, the campaign trail has now entered the homestretch.
Come poll day, it would be up to the electorate to decide.
From either side of the political divide, those who fought on different ends during primaries should work towards uniting their supporters so that come the day of voting they won’t be that “enemy from within.”
In 2008, ZANU-PF lost its dominance in Parliament for the first time since independence in 1980 after stirring up disenchantment within its ranks and file through a combination of factors, one of which had something to do with the imposition of candidates.
Indications are that the dominant political parties — ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change — either did not learn anything from past experiences or are simply taking the electorate for granted.
Both parties have failed to shake off the ghost of the past since the imposition of candidates, vote-buying, vote-rigging and the manipulation of internal electoral processes were rampant during their primaries.
Despite attempts to dismiss whatever happened during the primaries as water under the bridge, discontent in both parties continues to loom large ahead of the elections. The wounds inflicted during the primaries are not something that could be nursed before July 31 — the reality is that the main protagonists in the Zimbabwe crisis will lock horns once again at a time when they are severely fractured.
But as they hassle for votes, the electorate should watch out for those who speak with forked tongues with one objective in mind — securing the vote and doing as they please thereafter.
The electorate should avoid being blinded by empty promises and exaggerated humility shown by politicians during electioneering, the only period when they humble themselves before the voters.
This is the only time available in the next five years for the electorate to take to task those who are seeking to represent them to ensure that they don’t pack councils and the bicameral Parliament with individuals who think that being elected into office is an express ticket to riches.
The electorate should not make the mistake of unleashing representatives into the councils who will compete to loot rural and urban councils by awarding themselves residential stands at giveaway prices and demanding all sorts of featherbeddings when everyone else is feeling the brunt of the economic challenges that are a result of bad politics.
The current crop of MPs and Senators has fared badly, except for a few.
While these insensitive politicians are living large, service delivery in most urban and rural councils has declined to dangerous levels.
In the case of urban councils, most suburbs are going for weeks without water, with garbage piling at roadsides — posing serious health risks to residents. Street lights are no longer functional in most suburbs and within central business districts of most cities and towns, with roads becoming almost impassable throughout the country due to potholes.
Instead of practicing servant leadership, which puts the needs of others first and help people develop and perform as highly as possible, most of the Senators, MPs and councillors have become arrogant, selfish and untouchable.
The Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe saw MPs and Senators scrambling for all-terrain vehicles before they even started their duties. At one point the nation was held to ransom as MPs threatened to block the passage of the National Budget in order to press for their sitting allowances. The Constituency Development Fund also fell victim to these greedy MPs some of whom converted the funds to personal use instead of developing their constituencies.
The quality of debates has also gone down the drain, raising questions about the calibre of people representing some of the constituencies.
In view of all these shortcomings, the electorate needs to be wide awake this time around. People must demand workable solutions to alarming poverty, joblessness, declining service delivery and the scourge of diseases wreaking havoc in their communities.
Your vote is your voice….it is your power, which must not be wasted. That vote can only be put to good use by taking advantage of the campaign period to ask tough questions; gauging the aspiring candidates’ understanding of issues and whether they would be able to articulate them once they get into council or Parliament.
It is also important for the electorate to thoroughly assess the history or backgrounds of those aspiring for office to avoid voting for opportunists who seek political office for purposes of gaining access to public funds or as a form of employment. Going into politics should be used as a platform to give back to communities and not to feed on them: Those who are struggling to sustain their families should give themselves more time to develop before they could think of dedicating their lives to serving others when they do not have the means to do it.
Similarly, those of questionable morals and poor credentials should not be allowed anywhere near public office until they have been rehabilitated. The reported incidences of the looting of public resources by those who must protect them should act as a reminder to the electorate about how they can unwittingly contribute to the destruction of the country’s economy by not voting wisely.
Apart from looking for representatives that can pass the corporate governance test, the electorate should also insist on demonstrable ability to deliver from those aspiring for public office based on their track record.
We are not in any way suggesting that only those with deep pockets should go into politics; no. The point is that politics should be for those whose calling is to serve the people and not to enrich themselves.
In the case of those aspiring for office for the first time, the electorate should assess whether they have what it takes to develop their communities or to make their voices heard. The simple test for those seeking to extend their tenure is to measure their success; if their score is below standard then they don’t deserve a second chance.
Because people get a leadership they deserve, whatever choices people make on July 31 they must be prepared to live with the outcome for the next five years. The electorate should therefore refuse to be blinded by gifts from politicians who think that people can be bought. This election should be about issues and the calibre of those seeking to be elected into office and not sloganeering.
Above all, there must not be any room for force because violence is for idiots.
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