It is, indeed, the silly season, so silly that even the simplest of promises are used to secure votes.
In this episode, some politicians have promised to “drive” their way to victory.
Forget about dishing out broiler day old chicks, forget about the T-shirts — there is a new vote bait in the country and youths are loving it.
A group of youths gather at the offices of a driving school in Marondera, as they take turns for oral driving lessons. This was not their move, but alas, the looming harmonised elections have resulted in most politicians devising ways of winning the hearts of the youthful electorate.
Fungai Maramba (22), a beneficiary of the programme said he grabbed the opportunity funded by a local politician so that he possesses the seemingly precious document, a dream of every youth.
“We are being taught oral driving lessons. Our group will be booking for the provisional licence test this week. The lessons are going on well and it is a great stride in my life. I will get the provisional licence and will see what to do when the voting day comes,” he said.
The politicians’ generosity, often regarded as ‘empowering’ the youths, has been conveyed to the electorate via social media.
There has been an influx of young people at the Marondera Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) depot to acquire the licences.
There have been reports of massive corruption at VID depots where those seeking driver’s licences fork out US$80 to pass.
With politicians now involved, it is possible driving test results will be influenced.
Marondera Urban Business Forum chairperson Emmanuel Danha said there is a possibility of producing half-baked drivers.
“We all know of the corruption at VID and with this influx of youths being led by politicians to acquire drivers licences, it means more half-baked drivers will be on our highways,” he said.
A total of five people die everyday on Zimbabwe’s roads due to road accidents with the main cause being human error.
Social commentator Simbarashe Namusi said: “It is unfortunate that public goods financed by taxpayers money are being used to lure voters. This points to a lack of civic education. The electorate must be educated to the effect that a driver’s licence is not a favour,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, possession of a driver’s licence and a passport is a major achievement in life. A number of citizens have acquired the precious documents that have since gathered dust in shelves.
Youth Alliance for Democracy director Tichaona Masiyambiri said the driver’s licence gimmick is being used to bait the urban vote.
“Youths must understand that there is a need to vote for leaders who guarantee them a better future than just tokens that are used to get votes and thereafter ditch them till next election. There is this example of politicians promising urban dwellers title deeds. It simply means trying to win the urban vote. The politicians are so desperate to get the urban vote, hence this driver’s licence gimmick,” he said.
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for Marondera Central, Caston Matewu said it is high time the electorate gets educated on the roles of a legislator.
Zimbabwe will conduct its harmonised elections in August this year.
Major political parties have begun the candidates selection process. Zanu PF held its primaries last week while the opposition CCC will select its candidates on April 5.
Arrive Alive Awareness director Isaac Simbarashe said there is a need for VID officials to execute their duties professionally to avoid road accidents.
“There is nothing wrong for politicians to mobilise and assist the youths in securing drivers licences. We urge those at VID to be just professional and execute their duties without any influence. It is a duty for everyone to ensure that our roads are safe, among them producing competent drivers,” he said.
Today, Maramba is not bothered by the election date. The move by politicians who are seeking votes have proffered a solution for him. He will soon be a holder of a provisional driver’s licence. He will either go for the real test later using own funds or he will join scores of aspiring drivers whose provisional licences have expired before going for road tests.
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