This fallacy called voting

HARARE - The mobile telephone revolution in Africa has indeed expanded the public sphere.

As the country gears towards watershed elections this year, civic organisations linked to elections have began to use mobile phones to spread their gospel.

I received a message from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network urging me to register as a voter “Voting is your right!!! Register at the Registrar General offices near you.”

While most people continue to pin hopes that the outcome of elections will have a positive effect on their lives, they risk being perennially disappointed like Zimbabwe national football team supporters.

Experience is only the best teacher to those who want to be taught but for most people it seems they will never learn.

The experiences of the inclusive government should be a serious learning curve for most people in that life is a set of personal experiences, every individual must work hard to fulfil their own interests as no politician will provide them with daily means of sustenance.

An elderly man who has consistently voted since independence expressed no desire to continue doing so; all politicians wanting his vote are not going to get it.

The elderly man said for all the years he has voted nothing tangible has come from it and his life continued to depend on what he could do rather than what those voted into power could do.

While the man never enrolled for a degree at a university, his observations seem to come from a PhD scholar from a world class university one can think of.

What appears to be true in Africa is that democratic elections or simply voting has and will never be meaningful to the ordinary people.

 When ordinary people vote, they quite understand the meaning of what they are doing.

They are saying we want food security, an environment where they will prosper and not become dependent, relevant education, access to health, employment opportunities and above all participation or a say in decisions that affect their lives directly or indirectly.

On the contrary, politicians only want to use the electorate as a stepping stone to forward their selfish interests.

The absence of the middle class in Africa has meant that the only way to amass wealth is to be strategically positioned to access state resources.

This can only be achieved through seeking political office.

The electorate becomes an easy catalyst for such devious purposes and this explains why some legislators never go back to their constituencies after being voted in, only to appear at election time with food handouts as baits to the supposedly gullible electorates.

Those who are no longer interested in voting seem to have realised that casting their vote is not an indication that they are expressing their will but they are being used in an elitist power game.

Elections in Africa are just a ritual meant to perpetuate the myth that representative democracy is functional and nothing more than the circulation of the elite.

Voters are being fooled that they have the power to decide who should lead them when in fact they are only being offered a chance to choose who should rule them.

They are actually voting without choosing.

Those who abstain from voting have quickly realised that they are participating in a futile exercise.

What seems to be true is that while African leaders see the irrelevance of voting, they are adamant that it is the only way to go thereby fulfilling the long held thesis that elections are just meant to ensure circulation of the same elite.

Just look around, you will see that the very same people that want your vote are the same just that they are from different political parties.

Those who failed to be accommodated in mainstream parties have retreated and formed opposition parties so that they can strategically position themselves to access state resources.

The choice is yours, to be a means to an end or the end itself. - Wellington Gadzikwa

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