Partisan politics is Zim's biggest flaw

HARARE - In most politically mature nations, people vote around the issues candidates present during the election campaign period, including party manifestos. This suggests that people are free to make independent choices based on what they think about the different candidates who present themselves to them through manifestoes, party rallies and other platforms.

What informs voting, therefore, can never be the same. People have different needs, which vary from community to community. Within the same community also, the voting pattern can also be very different, depending on their understanding of their understanding of the different political messages peddled prior to voting. 

Sadly, the tragedy with Zimbabwean politics at the moment involves people voting along partisan lines, conveniently ignoring — to the detriment of their various communities — issues that affect them day in, day out.

Herein lies the folly the rural Zimbabwean voter has often been accused of — that is jeopardising the change agenda. A number of articles have been written around this topic, showing how different expectations shape their views of specific candidates.

The business sector unique perspectives of how the elections should have panned out. In other words, their interests would be best served by a specific arrangement that answers to its needs. The workers, on the other hand, would obviously have their own choices. The rural folk, like the urbanites, would be entitled to their own choices consistent with their needs, expectations and other considerations they deem key.

For decades now, the rural Zimbabwean voter has been criticised and questioned over their support for Zanu PF and its candidates in past elections, including in the just-ended July 30 plebiscite. This, however, sounds both absurd and misplaced. Where does the urban voter derive this supremacy to place themselves as the jury to decide on the correctness or otherwise of someone else’s vote when it is supposed to be their secret.

The needs of the rural voter are peculiar to those who live in such communities. Issues of potholes on city roads, the rise of commuter omnibus fares, water cuts, central business district (CBD) congestion, street vending and other urban-centric issues have entirely nothing to do with them. They would rather find themselves talking about fertilisers, irrigation infrastructure, seed among other needs that would least interest the urbanite.  

The July 30 harmonised elections have once again opened this controversy to the fore once again. While the MDC Alliance did garner a substantial number of the rural vote — even winning the cumulative vote in some provinces like in Manicaland — once again the accusation that the rural voter cost the opposition, unfortunately, has re-emerged.

The playground for the battle to land the country’s presidency has since moved to the courts. As a result, Zimbabwe yesterday was the centre of attraction for the whole world as the country’s apex court — the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) — sat to consider MDC Alliance presidential hopeful Nelson Chamisa’s electoral challenge.

Chamisa is challenging President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30 harmonised polls. According to the youthful opposition leader, the results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) favoured the incumbent and Zanu PF leader — Mnangagwa. He also argued that the results were fraught with mathematical errors deliberately meant to favour his 75-year-old opponent, claiming that he in fact won the right to the presidency after getting 60 percent of the vote.

While the argument on figures can continue, there is no way this can then change rural needs and make them homogenous with those of urban dwellers. There is no need for one to then accuse the other of doing down the other’s preferred candidate in an election. 

The public has for decades been used to voting for political parties, personalities and not the issues they present. There are situation where a candidate emerged as winner not on the strength of their message but simply because they belong to a specific political party. In extreme cases, they did not even know the candidate at all.

For the past 38 years, Zimbabweans have had to endure battling the same problems. Poverty levels have worsened over the years while the gap between the rich and the poor has widened significantly.

Access to health services has deteriorated drastically during the country’s close to two decades of independence. The educational standards have fallen so badly while unemployment has shot up.

National infrastructure like the road and railway network is so bad all over the country. On the other hand, corruption has become endemic.

This calls for the electorate to look at issues and not personalities or political parties when making choices in any election.

Comments (1)

This is truth!!! Politicians should be accountable to the people who vote for them and not to their parties. I think we need more independents in our governance structures...

The Beautiful ones are not yet born - 24 August 2018

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