People's will must prevail

HARARE - Zimbabweans are voting today in momentous polls that have a huge bearing on the country’s future.

Significantly, these are the first polls since former president Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in a soft military coup last November.

Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe drifted from being the darling of the world into a pariah State.

Despite the sacrifices he made towards the country’s liberation, Mugabe lost the plot when Zimbabweans became disenchanted with his rule.

Instead of stepping aside, he became a tin-pot dictator.

At the time of his ouster, the country’s economy had plumped into a full-blown crisis with no currency, over 90 percent unemployment, collapsed public system, deplorable infrastructure and an alarming skills flight.

This election is capable of making or breaking the hopes that our neighbours in the region, the international community and Zimbabweans themselves have in the country’s future.

Soon, the results will be announced.

It is absolutely critical that the will of the people be allowed to prevail.

Once Zimbabweans have spoken, we must all embrace the poll outcome since democracy would have won.

There mustn’t be winners or losers in this election. Everyone is a winner because for democracy to work we must all be participants, not simply observers.

Once the results are out, the real work must start immediately.

We need to begin the journey of rebuilding the nation which, despite its immense potential, was reduced into a recessionary heap due to bad governance and corruption.

There has already been a lot of goodwill for the unfolding political situation from even countries that had frosty relations with Zimbabwe ever since Mugabe was assisted to leave office.

In fact, the rest of the world has promised to welcome the country with open arms back into the family of nations if today’s harmonised elections are held in a credible manner.

As such, the ball is in our court to ensure that we not only hold free and fair elections but also respect the outcome, regardless of the identity of the winner.

Not once in the country’s history have elections attracted so much interest.

A record 23 candidates are contesting the presidential election with 55 political parties participating in the parliamentary election — the biggest number by far in
Zimbabwe’s post-colonial history.

It shows that Zimbabwe has come of age.

In the run-up to the elections, there were the highs and lows.

We witnessed many political parties squaring up with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) over a variety of issues which they argued stood in the way of free and fair elections.

Admittedly, some of these issues remain unresolved, but be that as it may, we hope that all Zimbabweans who registered to vote will come in big numbers to elect a president of their choice as well as Members of Parliament and councillors.

However, imperfect the electoral environment may be, we believe that if Zimbabweans come in their millions to register their vote, they will somehow force all key players to accept the will of the people.

If we seriously want to be reintegrated back into the family of nations, as a democratic nation, which respects the will of its people, Zimbabweans have a duty and responsibility to freely express themselves through the ballot.

The traditional leaders that have in the past been accused of coercing people to vote in a particular way must be disabled from interfering with the voting process and imposing their will on villagers.

The truth of the matter is that the rest of the world is watching with an eagle eye today’s harmonised elections in a bid to establish if we have earned the right not to be treated as a pariah state.

Despite the sharp differences that characterise the Zimbabwean political landscape, the onus is on us a people to use these elections as building blocks for a prosperous and united Zimbabwe.

The ruling Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance — the country’s main political parties which are touted by many as frontrunners of the harmonised elections — must find ways of narrowing down their differences for the benefit of the country after these polls.

This will include ensuring that the unresolved issues brought before Zec are attended to before the next elections in 2023 so that our democracy can reach maturity.

More importantly, every Zimbabwe must feel at home in their country in spite of their political affiliation, religion, race, tribe, creed or gender, with those ushered into offices exercising servant leadership and not becoming rulers as was the case under Mugabe.

By so doing our leaders would have helped Zimbabweans find each other in the post-election period and salvage the dream we all had at independence when the country was touted as the most promising African state.

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