The 2018 general elections are around the corner and already all those addicted to harvesting votes through corruption, violence and other forms of chicanery are back again.
Guest Column: OBERT CHINHAMO
More to the point, the electoral playing field is already heavily populated with individuals who are deceiving the electorate and buying their “golden” votes ahead of the 2018 general elections. This behaviour is deplorable and unpardonable to say the least. Every Zimbabwean should get concerned since a significant majority of the leadership elected through vote-buying performs badly. While in Parliament or in the local authority chambers, these are some of the leaders who do not meaningfully contribute to development, but are only heard when booing their opponents or triggering debates on trivialities.
Questions always asked by the electorate include: Why are they giving us stands, food, farming implements and other goodies now when we are nearing the 2018 general elections? Why didn’t they give us before, may be within a few weeks, months and years after winning previous elections?
The truth is that these leaders want to buy votes during the 2018 elections and nothing else. It is not a sign of love. They do not love the electorate, but are simply tricking them into voting for them and later dump them until another election. There has always been a chorus of complaints that after being voted into power, these individuals vanish and go AWOL. In other instances, after being elected they change friends and start staying in residential locations for the affluent. This behaviour is totally unacceptable yet it continues unabated. There seem to be no end, since the same behaviour witnessed in previous elections continues unabated and in some instances it has become worse.
There are certain individuals who used to live, dine, work, talk and kill time with us, but have all of a sudden after being elected become unreachable. After winning elections they are no longer part of us. I do not think that it is wrong to conclude that some of these leaders use their political positions as launch pads or springboards to tenderpreneurship geared towards personal enrichment. If the electorate knew before-hand that they would behave that way, I do not think that they would have been voted into power. This is just a warning to the electorate to analyse these individuals before the election time.
The above was just a detour from the gist of the opinion, but the major challenges in Zimbabwe are the many perennial cases of vote-buying and corruption. An analysis of previous elections from the year 2000 to 2015 shows that key public resources are dished out during election campaigns and these include land, food, jobs and livelihood opportunities, mining opportunities, access to cheap loans and credit lines and housing stands. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the motive of the hand-outs is to deceive and buy votes and nothing else. The timing speaks volumes about the intention to buy votes.
Previous cases have also shown that the electorate has also been duped. In the Norton by-election the youth were promised “heaven on earth”. The promises were televised, but not yet fulfilled.
In the Kwekwe parliamentary by-election, groups of women were promised stands, but not even a single woman benefited. These are some of the cases that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) ignores yet they constitute clear-cut cases of vote-buying and corruption.
Also disturbing is that some institutions that are overly regarded as professional and non-political have been implicated in vote-buying. For instance, during the 2008 election campaign, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) distributed farming implements, a few weeks before the election. This gives credence to critics averring that the RBZ aided a certain political party to buy votes.
To this end, the electorate is urged to be vigilant. Once bitten twice shy, which means that the electorate should be doubly cautious in the future.
Zimbabweans need leaders of the highest integrity and reputation, who do not buy votes and hoodwink the electorate into thinking that they are upright when in actual fact are jackals clothed in sheep’s clothes. A true representative works in the best interests and well-being of the people. Resist and refuse the temptation of being bought to vote for some political parties against your wishes.
Obert Chinhamo is one of the Trustees of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa and is writing in his personal capacity and should thus not be misconstrued as representing the thinking of the Trust. Feedback: email@example.com