Editor’s Comment: Zimbabweans should be winners in any election

Why is that it is rule by the people for the people. It means that the processes of democracy as we understand them, must be driven by the people and serve the same people. It is imperative that the people must own the process. However, what we have seen from time to time is that people – ordinary people – partake of only but one component of democracy, namely elections where they elect their leaders and send them to powerful seats in Parliament, local government or at State House.
It is moment of sheer release, as ordinary people feel that they have the power in their hands to make or unmake politicians.
However, it can be grossly misleading too.
Do citizens really make a choice or it is made for them by their parties?
Do citizens exercise real power over their elected representatives?
Can citizens really sleep well at night assured that their needs are taken care of by politicians.
The answer – largely – to this question is negative.
Citizens hardly make decisions about who represents them. The decision is mostly done by a small crowd of owners of political parties who decide who should run and who should not, and the decisions are informed by a number of things, mostly uncommunicated to citizens.
In Zimbabwe’s predominantly party-driven political processes, citizens only endorse candidates from a pool of those that would have made primary elections and nomination, all with the approval of a small clique of individuals. Because of the heavy investment in politics of the party, citizens feel obliged to vote for “their own” – which is actually not their own – in elections and do not care whether there are more competent people outside in other parties and independents.
Independents are said to be endangered species in Zimbabwe, that is why we can count on the fingers of our hands the number of independents that have made it to the highest levels since 1980.
Independents routinely lose. So do candidates from the “wrong” parties.
Some brilliant minds have lost opportunities to serve their communities, constituencies and country simply because they didn’t belong to the winning party in that side of town or country.
It is shameful.
What is more shameful is when citizens admit that they would have voted for someone they didnt know simply because they belonged to the party they support.
Often, these candidates oblige and pay back by not giving back to the voters, often for a whole term, save to come back just in time for another elections.
It’s a trick that has been played over and over again in both town and country.
The results have been disastrous.
There have been no-one to carry the mandate of representing the electorate and pushing the development agenda – which at the stage of our nascent democracy, remains one of the key expectations of our poor people.
Unfortunately, many elected officials do not measure up.
Urban areas, for example, provide the clearest signs of neglect.
Politicians campaign on the basis of service delivery but become absent once they achieve what they want.
They can even feign lack of power to change things when they had openly campaigned on the strength of that very same message.
Their sense of responsibility immediately evaporates.
The losers are the electorate.
As we approach the by-elections at the weekend, these reflections are important. Citizens must wake up and smell the coffee!
or are we at that stage yet?
The expectation would be that after 40 years of Independence, our politics would mature and drive politics in a new trajectory.
it would be interesting to see whether Zimbabweans can abandon primitive politics of groups, that have hardly served them, and elect competent and committed people to various offices.
That should be the outcome of elections. Citizens should be the winners.
Citizens must make decisions that they will be happy to live with, as they elect true representatives from whatever party, rather than go with the party. The parties are not bands of angels, either. Citizens must feel free to exercise power over them and give them what they truly deserve, including losing votes.

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