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Of what benefit is voting? Matabeleland ponders

Matabeleland’s disconnection from mainstream politics in Zimbabwe disincentivises voting for most citizens

Voting is not by itself a mark of democracy, it is the counting process that sets apart real democracy and going through the motion. Zimbabwe has not shown an interest in extending democracy to the vote counting process; its democracy only places emphasis on the moment the voter enters the voting booth and nothing else about the electoral process.

It is fair to say Zimbabwe’s regular elections have been nothing short of an expensive endorsement of tyranny; they are merely a symbolic measure. This democratic tyranny has sustained ZANU PF rule and Matabeleland has remained remote from the decisions impacting its interests. Voting has not secured freedom for Matabeleland; in a system where anything goes and nothing matters, Matabeleland people have found themselves continually voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant.

At the core of Matabeleland political despair lies socio-political indifference; it is the indifference shown by the majority ethnic Shona people on the plight of Matabeleland and Matabeles within the independent Zimbabwe that has enabled bad politics and policies to triumph over the good.

We have gone through at least three dark decades of being maligned by the Zimbabwean systems and frustrated by our inability to break the harmful cycle. The way forward for Matabeleland is arguably the immediate and practical addressing of some reliability issues within the region’s political agenda. Our weakest link is the loose links between different political groups which leave them vulnerable to intrusion, confusion and manipulation by wealthy local ZANU PF officials.

Our focal point at present should not be to seek a reason why it is not possible to break the cycle of ZANU PF terrorism in Matabeleland but to sort to make breaking that cycle possible. There are many possibilities; voting remains one of the practicable ones although we agree that the Zimbabwean voting process has long lost its credibility. Getting people politically active is a vital step.

For voting to be a beneficial exercise, an informed electorate is essential; only when people have learned about issues do they begin to visualise the significance of voting. We have to understand what we are voting for; ideally no one should be going into an election booth to vote for a candidate because of their ethnicity or race yet that is exactly what has been happening in Zimbabwe.

Education should be the primary goal of regional political groups. Matabeleland cannot alter who becomes a Zimbabwean president but Matabeleland can influence who become Matabeleland representatives. Focus should be on taking control of the region and that will certainly not happen by voting ethnicity but through voting for strong Matabeleland organisations. Anyone standing for a Zimbabwean political party cannot be of use to the wider interests of the region because Zimbabwean parties are not driven by Matabeleland interests. We need to tighten internal links and secure common interests.


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