People's silent displeasure on GNU

HARARE - Whatever outcome of the constitutional referendum held on Saturday; one thing undisputable is the silent voter apathy that has crept in the Zimbabwean society.

Opportunists and all those bitter about the whole constitution-making process in general and the holding of the referendum in particular will seize this moment in a “we told you so” stance but the implications of voters’ behaviour goes beyond the whole process.

In any case there could not have been a perfect constitution, particularly drafted by three political parties of different ideologies and political orientations all together, but the behaviour that was demonstrated by some, if not the majority, of the entire populace is disturbing and very dangerous in as much as consolidating the democratic process is concerned.

We all expected much on the deliverance of the Government of National Unity. It failed in that respect and restricted itself mainly for the politicians themselves who have since demystified their perceived attitudes on each other. GNU has helped President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to realise that they are mere opponents and not necessarily sworn enemies.

It helped ministers and legislatures from across the political divide that their quarrels were premised on differing political beliefs and as such were not enemies but rivals.

However the GNU did little to demystify the political divide on the grass roots. In the high density suburbs people are still labelled by certain names that are scornful simply because of their allegiance to certain political parties.

 This failure by the GNU has made national processes to suffer.
A national process like a constitutional referendum where people are not voting on party lines but simply endorsing or rejecting what ought to be a supreme law of the land has suffered as a way of people’s displeasure on the GNU.

To many, the GNU has been nothing other than a platform of lavish lifestyles by those in the arrangement.

The consensus that Members of Parliament have had especially on demanding luxurious lifestyles is unbelievable.

Those we used to toyi toyi with have become so untouchable and too elitist to constantly get connected with grassroots.

The Constituency Development Fund is a case in point, where a noble idea was just reduced into a money plundering project that to this day has left no one really accountable for the whopping $50 000 that each legislature received.

Instead to the layman it is still difficult to separate this project from the hefty $Z50 000 each the war veterans once received.

As such instead of participating overwhelmingly in the referendum people seized the opportunity to punish the GNU and echo sentiments of displeasure simply by remaining at their respective homes instead of queuing to vote.

The trend exhibited should give our politicians ample time to reflect on what to expect ahead of general elections.

The environment was relatively calm, there were no threats of consequences to be met for “voting unwisely” and for this development credit should be given to the Copac team and their counterparts in form of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Despite all these positives, the turnout was not that pleasing. We expected people to bring to the polling stations lunch boxes, in case starvation would thrive whilst in queues but that was not the case.

The queues were too short for a national process like a referendum.

The country has held seven referenda to this date since 1890 when it was colonised by the British settlers. The first referendum was held in 1922 on the decision on whether to form a responsible government or for Southern Rhodesia to be incorporated under the Union of South Africa.

High turnouts were as a result of people’s trust on respective governments.

The growing distrust of the GNU by the people is dangerous and the sooner politicians realise that they are no longer with the people the better for all of us.


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