Following last week’s proclamation of the election date by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is now firmly on the road to polls — to decide the future of our country for at least the next five years.
This period leading to election day is critical to the determination of our destiny.
We should, therefore, as a nation, work together to ensure that we bring hope and not despair; fruit and not harm; prosperity and not more poverty to our country.
This country has for far too long suffered immensely and unnecessarily because we knowingly have not done the right thing during this crucial period.
Politicians have wantonly abused people’s constitutional right to choose leaders of their choice and the country has endured the painful consequences of disputed polls. The consequences have come in the form of violence and bloodshed; economic decay and debilitating poverty; restlessness and hatred pervading the nation.
It is no fallacy that Zimbabweans are, by nature, a peace-loving people, but this God-given attribute has been stolen from us for the past almost two decades by power-hungry politicians who have, driven by nothing but shameless greed, sacrificed the lives of millions of our people for selfish ends.
If we allow them again to manipulate us into giving away our rights to determine our own destiny, we will no doubt find ourselves in the same political and economic predicament that we have endured in the past forgettable 20 long years.
We should all go out to vote without fear — only favour of political leaders of our choice.
The key requisite that allows us to exercise our constitutional right to vote is a peaceful environment. Politicians from across the political divide have agreed and their leaders have publicly pledged such an environment to prevail.
While we may have so far seen some movement in the areas of media reforms, where media space was slightly opened, we have not seen several reforms that are critical to the prevalence of credible elections. We still await crucial electoral reforms that the opposition is clamouring for, including issues to do with transparency of ballot paper printing and handling.
There are also issues to do with security reforms where there are demands that soldiers and their guns should not be allowed to roam the countryside because their presence and their weapons intimidate people.
These are some of the issues that some electoral contestants complain about. Even if they eventually were to be beaten through fair vote, these contestants would dispute the results citing intimidation of voters. Who would blame them?
It is difficult to understand why Mnangagwa and his party, Zanu PF, should expect their political opponents to accept a situation where they should be allowed to use national security forces and public media outlets to openly fight in their corner in political contests.
It is important for Mnangagwa to live by his pledge to deliver a credible poll by playing fair. That is the only way he can secure the legitimacy to lead this country.
ZBC is not Zanu PF property and people are not so foolish they cannot see where that critical election weapon is blatantly abused in favour of Zanu PF.