Well done to all who voted

HARARE - If you stood in a voting queue yesterday, well done.

Yesterday was not a public holiday for sitting outside in the sun having a beer and a braai.

It was the only day we’ll have for the next five years in which we’ve had a real chance to change tomorrow and change the course of our history.

For many Zimbabweans what happened yesterday may be their last chance to turn their lives around, the end of their ability to keep struggling on in Zimbabwe with things the way they are, the way they’ve been for so very long. 

Voting is one of those precious things that you don’t really appreciate until you’ve done it and that you miss so desperately when you lose it. Have you ever noticed how strangely people behave on election day?

If they haven’t voted they either stay out of sight or they walk around with their hands in their pockets so no one will be able to tell if they’ve voted or not. But people who have voted tend to wave their purple ink-stained finger around a lot and they smile all the time.

That ink stained finger is worn as a badge of pride for the two or three days it takes to wear off.

There’s nothing quite as capable of filling a person with pride and patriotism as voting. It gives a feeling you can’t explain to someone who hasn’t done it.

The exhilaration of finally getting to the front of the queue, often after having waited for many hours.

The thrill of seeing your name on the voters’ roll and of being given a ballot paper. And then the adrenalin rush that comes with standing completely alone in a polling booth with your ballot slip in front of you.

You know you haven’t got long but for a moment you look at the faces of the candidates on the ballot paper before you make your mark. 

Do you like them? Do you trust them? Do you believe all those grand promises they made at the rallies? Do they really care about you or just about themselves?

And perhaps most important of all, will they forget all about you and your problems once they’ve got into power?

With one bold “X” you get to choose the person you trust; the person you want to be your voice in government; the person you think is most likely to implement policies which will improve your life, your community and your country.

In that little polling booth there’s no one watching you, filming you, looking over your shoulder or threatening you; it’s just you and that little slip of paper.

There are so many reasons for every Zimbabwean that is on the voters’ roll to go and vote.

The most important one is that a ballot slip was printed for you and if you don’t use it, someone else will.

Every single vote that is legitimately cast is one vote less that can be rigged.

It was important to vote for the thousands of Zimbabweans now called ‘Aliens” who were struck off the voters’ roll, for the three or four million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who were denied their right to vote.

We had to do it for Zimbabweans who died of cholera, needlessly, shamefully, because the government couldn’t even give them clean water, for the one million Zimbabweans whose homes were bulldozed in the government’s Operation Murambatsvina.

The choice was yours.