In an election, not everyone can win

HARARE - On Monday, over 5,6 million voters in Zimbabwe will give the first significant electoral verdict on the political parties since the departure in November of long-ruling despot Robert Mugabe.

Voters will get the chance to bring in their verdict on the 23 presidential candidates running, those running for the National Assembly and the local authorities. But no one should pretend that Zimbabwe will speak with one voice.

Quite the reverse.

These elections appear more likely than at any time in the recent past to emphasise Zimbabwe’s own large and deepening political differences.

These range from the difference between opinion and politics, to contrasts between and within the many differing communities. July 30 matters. Every contestant is hoping for a good outcome. But elections by their very nature produce winners and losers.

Voters must ensure they bestow office on candidates who are skilled, highly-judicious, and with love for the people.

More importantly, the result of the election must be respected by all.

Of course, this election cycle was fraught with polarisation, with one party harbouring deep enmity for the other party’s presidential candidate. Any way the election unfolds, outrage and protests on either sides of the isle is inevitable because everyone hates losing.

The country expects a protest, and anyone is free to do so because it’s the constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen.

But, people must be able to express their discontent and unhappiness so long as it’s within reasonable bounds, and it does not affect the freedoms of others and does not damage property.

There is nothing wrong with waving placards to express discontent, but this must never be allowed to degenerate into physical confrontation warranting the intervention of security forces. Yes, the political climate is full of distrust, but trust for the election process must be the bare minimum. After all, everyone who is participating hopes the process has some modicum of fairness.

There’s nothing worse ? or less presidential ? than a sore loser. Candidates are doing the country a great disservice by suggesting the outcome of this election is out of his hands and already “rigged” against them.

There is no cogent evidence to support these claims. Of course, there are concerns about the murky process run by Zec, the refusal to avail the final voter register, controversy around ballot papers and so on.

But all contestants must commit to accept the results of the election. All candidates must support a peaceful transition of power. Not everyone can win.

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