The day has finally come and you are the main actor of the day. It is a historic election — one where all the presidential front runners are new on the ballot paper.
By Tapiwa Gomo
The late Morgan Tsvangirai and the ousted former President Robert Mugabe, who dominated politics and elections in the last two decades, are not on the ballot paper.
Your vote, this time around, is making history. It will deliver Zimbabwe’s second democratically-elected President.
That alone is not sufficient enough to be excited about nor should it be a deciding factor. There are serious issues to consider as you walk into that ballot box.
The country is hungry, poor and the people are destitute. We need our economy back on the rails. We are not in this state by nature or choice. Our troubles are human-made.
There are men and women who authored our problems, our poverty and destitution.
Yes, as you walk into that ballot box you will see faces of those responsible for your suffering on the ballot papers and faces of those who genuinely wish to help rebuild the country.
Think and vote wisely. You can make it happen for you and the future generation.
The relevance of this election derives from that of those who caused our suffering have established a system of entitlement, lawlessness, corruption, fear through violence and an appalling sense of carelessness with state resources.
This needs to be undone. Their individualism has scared away economic growth, development and capital.
They plunged our country from being the second biggest economy in Africa to one of the poorest. It was not natural.
While the country experienced some form of change of political faces in the last seven months, these have not resulted in the change of our situation. So don’t just vote to change faces, but to change our situation.
Vote for democracy to usher in a system of government by the whole population. Vote for a democracy that will promote economic growth and sustainable development. And one that sets the rules and laws for an economy to thrive.
These are also crucial to the well-being of all citizens through employment and individual wealth but also to empower them to maintain checks and balances on politicians, the State and the private sector and restrict monopoly of power.
Laws and rules help maintain the balance of power. Free and fair elections, free media, civil society and accountable government, and other basic democratic principles constitute critical elements of conducive environment for economic growth. So your “X” is not in vain.
Without these, potholes will remain, access to basics services will continue to deteriorate and poverty will deepen.
Our children will continue to flee the country into the diaspora.
Vote for the rule of law and accountability which should spawn economic growth and employment. Vote for poverty reduction.
Think about the capable people out there who are sleeping hungry every day because of lack of survival opportunities. It is not too late to reflect on these issues as you walk to the polling station.
The candidates have done their part of trying to convince you to give them your vote. Your vote is your choice, your right and your decision.
For today and this moment — whether you are preparing to go to the polling station or you are already on the queue — that “X” gives you the power to choose the country’s leadership for the next five years.
Our elections have never been clean. The voters’ roll needs another five years to clean up. But do not be discouraged. Go and vote.
You are better off exercising your right to vote and challenge the process later than to allow others to choose for you. Send a signal and watch how the system reacts.
The campaign trial has been intense and somewhat manipulative. Entertainment, free food and other freebies or even fear might have attracted you to join the huge crowds that thronged campaign rallies.
This is the time for you to allow normalcy, reason and logic to prevail. You know the pain the country has gone through.
You know the potential the country possesses. And you can imagine the future that you want for Zimbabwe. That should be the basis for your choice.
Do not trade your vote for perishable donations as doing so is tantamount to promoting corruption.
The pieces of soap, bags of maize or the freebies given to you during campaigns will soon vanish.
Vote-buying is illegal, takes advantage of people’s economic situation and distorts democracy. Don’t allow politicians to undermine our democracy.
This is the time to breathe life into our democracy and allow majority rule. Teach political parties and their candidates that they must present their arguments and convince the electorate that they have a vision for the country. Soap and T-shirts will not build our country.
If you vote wisely, you will not need to lose your dignity by being a beneficiary of donations when you can afford them.
Do not be afraid to express yourself through an “X” in the ballot box. You and your vote are very safe. It is just you and your decision and do not miss a chance to make the right decision.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa