Citizen election in 2013

HARARE - Zimbabwe will turn 33 in 2013.

She has had many elections since her birth in 1980. Some of them have had fatal outcomes that battered the reputation of our beautiful country.

Victims are seething in anger and may be bent on seeking revenge if stakeholders decide not to preach messages of peace. Failure to decide on the gospel of peace is to decide on the gospel of hate and irresponsible politicking.

Venerating one party will not remove the hammer and sickle of political violence that forced Zimbabwe and the outside world to give us a general Government of National Unity (GNU) that is so because of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) entered to three years ago by the parties into the GNU.

The citizens have always spoken through the ballot box.

Long queues, torrential downpours or scotching heat have not deterred Zimbabweans from voting. Violence or the absence of it has not barred voters from casting their votes.

2013 must be a year where Zimbabwean elections should be peaceful judging from the GNU which has in all earnestness successfully dealt with fire fighting issues relating to Zimbabweans.

The external actors like Sadc-appointed facilitators cannot be overlooked. We remain indebted to them for brokering peace that gave birth the GNU.

The church through heads of Christian denominations have actively challenged the GNU partners to campaign peacefully.

Civil society and its wide membership has towered head and shoulders over political establishments in ensuring that leaders are accountable, transparent and people-oriented.

The prospects of holding peaceful harmonised elections in 2013 are there for us all to see.

If I may risk a prophecy, the outside world is going to pay more and more attention to contentious Zimbabwean issues currently obtaining.

The outcome of the negotiations of these issues like Economic and Social Cultural (Ecosoc) rights, dual citizenship and other reforms will guide the outside world.

The hope is that the constitutional reform fever in Zimbabwe will create a fertile environment for peace and tranquillity to prevail before, during and after the harmonised elections.

Internal (whose bulk membership is civil society) and external observers whose bulk membership is civil society will go a long way in ensuring that Zimbabwe will hold free and fair elections.

It is imperative for the players in the Zimbabwean politics to avoid hate speech. Hate speech wins few hearts.

In as much as there have been recent amendments to curb violent political campaigns, these steps are not enough.

It is difficult to separate political from legal arguments and vice versa.

It must be an inherent decision from all Zimbabweans to turn the culture of violence into a culture of peace.

The Zimbabwean citizens want to know what each political party is for, not just what it is against.

The election will demand more than the resolution of the contentious issues that the GNU partners are grappling with.

Issues of Ecosoc rights like the right to health, education, shelter and others are fundamental rights that can be made justiciable if they are incorporated in the grand norm of Zimbabwe.

It is incumbent upon each political party to come up with clear policies on how Ecosoc rights will be made justiciable.

The political campaigns should be a platform where prospective candidates should sell their voices to the poor, who live in squalid conditions. Their voices should convince the rich to vote for them.

The politicians should know that Zimbabweans will speak through the ballot. Churches, church-related organisations, pressure groups, student movements, trade unions and the general citizens will not adopt a wait and see attitude towards electing office bearers.

The GNU has shown us that no one political party has a monopoly of solutions to the problems that bedevil our beloved Zimbabwe.

The speaking tours towards an election should save as listening tours where politicians should craft policies that stem from the participation of citizens in the creation of a better Zimbabwe.

It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them. The GNU partners have consumed to excess contentious issues that can take their negotiations to the wire. The negotiators should negotiate in good faith. It was Adlai Stevenson’s political axiom that “to close the door to the conference room is to open a door to war”.

The gruesome elections like the 2008 elections set a bad precedent in Zimbabwean politics. There isn’t any magic by which the sting of violence can be removed.

Politics of repression, exclusion and stomach politics will win few hearts. Civil society, trade unions and churches helped in the creation of a multiparty country with a multi-party press and multi-party opinions.

It is stakeholders through reports like Freedom House report that clearly show that political victory can be bought too dearly.

It goes without mentioning that Zimbabweans want to hear about their problems and how the powers that be will solve them.

It is the duty of the political parties to talk plainly about real problems like impulsive fare hikes, incessant power cuts, and incessant disease outbreaks amongst a plethora of other problems.

The failure to resolve these sticky problems adds nothing to the dignity of the candidates and will not be above the intelligence of voters. The votes will speak volumes on how voters appreciate each winner.

It is no hideous offence to believe that the citizen’s vote will do all the talking.

The people will render their verdict come 2013 election. Politicians should not do all the talking. They should carry their voices to the nation.

That which will unite us as Zimbabweans will be far greater than that which divides political parties.
 
If truth be told, the outcome depends on the candidate’s hard work. We will give our vote to those who deserve it. Heaven will not bring an ark for politicians.

Hardworking candidates will pledge their support to eventual winners and remain hopeful that they will not sink into political oblivion.

Abraham Lincoln after an unsuccessful election once remarked that “he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark”.

He said he was “too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh”.

As Zimbabweans, we will stand by hardworking leaders even in defeat. This will give us pride. Politics is more than just winning or losing elections.

It is a continuous process of building our nascent democracy. It is not enough just to praise democracy.

All and sundry must make it work, from the card carrying cadre to the one in the driving seat of the party.

Constructive criticism of the respective GNU players should not be underestimated.

We celebrate some of the gains of the GNU like multicurrency regime, stable prices of food stuffs.

Be that as it may, not all citizens enjoy the benefits of the multicurrency system. Second generation rights are not protected in our constitution.

The political negotiators in the GNU should understand that it is better to discuss a question even without settling it than to settle a question without discussing it.

The parties discussed contentious issues and that is laudable.

They agreed on other issues like the stakeholder conferences.

They had disagreements on sticky issues but at least they discussed. - Sharon Hofisi

*Sharon Hofisi is a lawyer and writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted at Sharonhofisi@yahoo.com

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