The coming election will not be free and fair because the electoral process is gravely flawed.
Sunday View by Alois T Masepe
A free and fair election is not determined by the environment prevailing on the polling day but on whether the electoral process, system and administration are seen to be fair and just to the electorate and all the contestants.
It is fundamental in a democracy to ensure that the electorate is fully empowered to freely express its leadership choice and preference and that the contestants are treated equally by the election administration organ and the state-controlled mass media during the election campaign period.
Democratic principles demand that an electoral process should put the voter on centre-stage. The system must bend backwards to ensure that the voter is in a position to cast his ballot free from undue influence from state organs and to also guarantee that the cast ballot serves its intended purpose.
The system must respond to the electoral needs of the voters as opposed to the electorate being force-marched and stampeded to meet the requirements of a lopsided process.
In this country and other politically underdeveloped countries, the electoral process is hinged and centred on the political status quo and is intended to protect the ruling elite. Such a process and system has never and will never produce a free and fair election.
Should we then vote on Wednesday?
My answer is a resounding “Yes”. We must vote in spite of the imponderables thrust in our path.
Previous elections do show that the urban voter plays political truancy on election days. The voter turnout in urban centres averages less than 30% of the registered electorate. The same sad story of voter apathy goes for the Matabeleland provinces.
Contrast this trend with the voter turnout in the rural hinterland where an acceptable average of 75% threshold is achieved and the picture emerges clearly that the urban voter is guilty of political irresponsibility and gross negligence and recklessness.
The urban voter stands accused of electoral inertia and apathy and is ultimately responsible for the confusion and tragedy that visited us in the aftermath of the March 2008 election.
If we had achieved a 50% voter turnout in urban centres and the Matabeleland provinces, the country could have avoided the June 2008 presidential runoff mayhem and consequently, the ill-fated Government of National Unity.
We need to understand that the status quo is engaged in a well-orchestrated and co-ordinated strategy to frustrate the voter as a self-preservation and damage control measure.
If we boycott the election, we will unwittingly be indulging in self-sabotage and acting in accordance with the undemocratic designs of those plotting against the people.
It is said people get the government they deserve. Accordingly, as we march inexorably towards Wednesday’s election, those of us who are on the voters’ roll need to resolve that the results that will come out of the electoral process reflect the true will of the electorate.
We need to rid ourselves of the syndrome and mindset that influences us to believe that Sadc, the African Union or South Africa will tackle our political problems for us.
The truth of the matter is that we are our own liberators: friends, neighbours and well-wishers will try to assist but we, as citizens, are ultimately responsible for resolving our political challenges.
The choice is clear: the voter turnout on Wednesday will either show evidence of a citizenry that has finally awaken from its deep political slumber or a nation that is politically dazed and sleep-walking towards the precipice.