LAST week the nation had the privilege of once again going to the polls to choose some of their leaders.
This in itself was quite an interesting process and from a quick scan around polling stations, one could see that more could have been done to mobilise people to go out and vote.
Or maybe the system has become so efficient that the long and monotonous queues we are so used to having are a thing of the past? Well, whatever the truth of the matter, there were by-elections last week.
There seems to be a telling reality that one political party won the 16 constituencies, much to everyone’s surprise? Well, it is not a surprise seeing that some political parties do take their power issues more seriously than we might actually care to admit.
Meanwhile, in some other parts of the country, our lives did continue business as usual despite the reality of elections being held elsewhere. The question then is: Do elections in Zimbabwe actually mean something or are we wasting our precious time?
Down memory lane
In 2013, I was part of a very interesting campaign that mobilised the youth to go out and vote. It was every exciting to take time to talk to young people and share our views and insights on elections and what they mean for our lives.
Most young people did seem excited to have the chance to vote as it did give them an opportunity to elect what they deemed their rightful leadership.
However, some were sceptical on how elections would transform their lived realities. It is almost two years after the 2013 national elections and indeed the realties of young people in Zimbabwe still remain the same or could be deemed worse in some of the areas.
Those who depended on the opposition politics should be wondering what exactly is happening as much is unfolding in terms of the youth’s inclusion in leadership processes. This was the case in 2013 and currently the same can be said about the young people.
Some of the issues of unemployment, poverty and now the hunger that is coupled with bad rains from the last farming season still remain and are having dire effects on the young people’s lived realties. The truth is a lot is going wrong in Zimbabwe and some of it has nothing to do with nature’s call, but sheer unwillingness by personalities to dream beyond themselves and their own little empires. Sad.
Our elders tell us of times that they celebrated Christmas and other public holidays with such pleasure and joy, but this to the born-free generation is slipping into a nightmare by the day. There was a time it almost seemed possible that both the young, the old, the literate, illiterate and so on would lead alongside each other, but alas, that dream is slowly remaining just that – a dream!
Memories of 2008 seem to be refreshed in people’s lived realities especially the youth and the women. It is not the political violence — not even — it is the sad realties of disease, poverty, hurt, pain and sorrow that comes from a governance system that has gone wrong in many ways than one.
So what we may ask: Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Well, it depends whether you dear readers are a half-empty or half- full worldview kind of person.
Zimbabwe has become a de facto one-party state (thanks to my learned governance and democracy colleagues). Essentially this means that someone somewhere could have made a wrong move by assuming that by refusing to be part of elections there would be a change of system, thoughts, attitude and whatever it is these actions normally ought to effect.
Now the current reality is that Zanu PF does have the majority in Parliament and government. Is this bad? Well, again depends on your worldview. I would like to think that at some point, there is urgent need for us as Zimbabweans to define for ourselves what we want to see happening.
If we do not go out and vote then protect that vote, what are we saying? Are we assuming that these processes will have a fairy godmother that will whip out a wand and transform our realities?
Well, that just happens in books — in real life, people actually get up and do something if they are to witness any significant changes in their lived realities.
If you are the praying type, pray; if you are the activists, do what is innovative and new to engage; the academic – may we see the think-tanks producing alternative policies please. Zimbabwe is a very rich land that is endowed with brains, beauty, wealth — you name it. We surely do have whatever is required for us to make the rightful transformation — so we must act. Ultimately the onus is on us to become the change we want to see happen in our world.
No matter how many elections come and go, we know the status quo might remain, but in our own small ways are sure we can contribute to a certain level of sanity and semblance of order in Zimbabwe. The by-elections could have meant different things to each of us, but guess what? This is one Zimbabwe and so we may need to do whatever is possible and within our means so that we see a transformation.
No need to be tribalistic, promote political party line divisions, call each other demonising names and so on. Do you actually realise that there is an emerging class of hard-working and patriotic Zimbabweans who are rolling up their sleeves and investing, scouting for investment and making it work?
They are not fixated on who is doing what where as personalities, but care about how to get Zimbabwe to the next level. You too can become part of the new generation of actors who are dedicated to Zimbabwe’s development.
No need to wait for these sham elections and watch the male and elderly take power and abuse it on our watch. We can do something about it today and see a new Zimbabwe that is possible and inclusive. No need to wait – let’s do this!
Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje.