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Echoes:Your vote is yours — and yours alone

The election campaign so far has been drama-filled with insults being thrown around, open intimidation and startling revelations.

The election campaign so far has been drama-filled with insults being thrown around, open intimidation and startling revelations.

Report by Conway Tutani

Some of the insulting non-issues include the cheap shots taken at Morgan Tsvangirai by First Lady Grace Mugabe that her husband President Robert Mugabe got home “trembling” the first time he met Tsvangirai horrified at the sight of the MDC-T leader. The fact that Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth Macheka far surpasses Grace Mugabe in the beauty and deportment department does not necessarily make her a better character than the First Lady. It is not in doubt that Macheka looks and dresses far much better than the First Lady, but this election is not about looks, but policies and promises. That is the criteria.

Zanu PF’s Dzingai Mutumbuka, the late Maurice Nyagumbo and Enos Chikowore could have been strong contenders for the Mr Ugly title had it been there during their time, but their looks had nothing to do with their politics; there was no correlation. Nyagumbo and Chikowore lie buried at the National Heroes’ Acre for their deeds, not their looks.

So some of these “jokes” must be confined to give merriment at kitchen teas (kitchen parties, as they are called in this country) or pub talk, not be brought to rallies. If you show respect, you get respect.

Now you have this character called Obadiah Musindo, who masquerades as a reverend, but is far from reverential, having the gall to say: “I know it’s possible to wrestle . . . seats from the MDC-T through my housing projects . . . We request each beneficiary to bring at least five potential voters. We indoctrinate them and because most of them are poor and vulnerable people, they have interests to protect because we will not hesitate to reclaim our stands if there are elements of double standards.” This is contempt and disrespect of ordinary people at its worst. There is much more of blackmail than empowerment. The last time I heard, elections had something to do with persuasiveness. But try as you may, you can never turn these characters into democrats. We are talking about a closed, exclusive system. That is why they found it extremely hard to work in an inclusive government from day one, even though it had been necessitated by the need to accommodate them as sore, bad and vicious losers.

Then there was this revelation — not startling to some — by Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa that he had formed Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn in 2008 specifically to prevent a Tsvangirai victory in the 2008 presidential poll. After hopes had been raised by talk of a grand coalition ahead of this year’s harmonised elections, this is the last thing many people wanted to hear, going by most of the responses on websites. People don’t like to be taken for granted. They detest even more being taken for a ride. For all of five years, they were in the dark.

“I think we achieved what we had set ourselves to achieve and that is to make sure Morgan did not win that election and that Mugabe did not win that election,” Dabengwa said. Comrade, it was not about Tsvangirai or Mugabe, but about the people’s will at that point in time. With democracy having taken root, the very same people could have tossed out Tsvangirai even midway into his term would he have failed them in the same way the tidal wave of protests in Egypt made President Mohammed Morsi’s rule untenable. It’s far much easier to get rid of a newcomer than a long-ruling leader protected by an entrenched system. While what has happened in Egypt is most unfortunate, the first uncertain steps to democracy have been taken. Transition from dictatorship is rarely neat and tidy.

It’s like in Matabeleland itself where the regime tried and failed to blackmail people to vote for it, saying there would not be any development in the region if they kept on voting for the opposition. But the people didn’t budge — their will prevailed throughout because it was not manipulated by their leaders.

So, isn’t what Dabengwa professed to have done tantamount to rigging? In sport, this would be similar to match-fixing. What does this say for democracy? Let democracy take its natural, unhindered course, no matter how distasteful to you. Rigging is rigging by any name.

Now, had Dabengwa been allowed to be the leader of the grand coalition, as he had reportedly demanded on the grounds of “seniority”, would he have run away with its agenda and wrecked it to serve his own secret purposes?

Clearly, Dabengwa’s move worked massively to the advantage of Zanu PF. Zanu PF had all, but lost. It would have been all over, but for Dabengwa, by his own voluntary, unsolicited admission. He gave them five more years to regroup, entrench and consolidate. Does he not also have the blood of the more than 200 people killed in the run-up to the June 2008 presidential runoff election on his hands?

Your precious vote is yours and yours alone — it cannot be belittled, extracted by force or transferrable to a cause you don’t know.