Use the symbols, stupid!

Zimbabwe claims to have one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. But at election time we are told that most people in the rural areas are illiterate and need help in casting their votes.

During the 1980 generation election party symbols were used successfully to enable everyone to vote – even those who were functionally illiterate. There were no complaints from political parties about their supporters being unable to distinguish between the various symbols. All that is needed is for the contesting parties to educate their followers about how to put their X next to the symbol of the party they want to vote for. If this system worked in 1980 then surely it can work now.

On the front page of this newspaper we carry a story about Zanu (PF)’s secretary for administration, DidymusMutasa, telling villagers in Manicaland to claim that they are illiterate so that they can get assistance from CIO agents seconded to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as presiding officers. This is a desperate, and most transparent, attempt to subvert the will of the people.

Mutasa’s reasoning, spelled out to the villagers at the weekend, is that anybody going unaccompanied into the polling booth will be deemed to be MDC and “dealt with” after the election.

We hope all parties will reject this idiotic suggestion, and the contempt it demonstrates for the ordinary people. But then, it is no surprise, coming from a man who once said he did not care if half the population starved to death as they were not Zanu (PF) supporters.

We feel that the people must be free to vote for the candidate and party of their choice. Let the people speak freely. This is what so many gave their lives for in the years leading up to 1980.

It is in our national interest to have credible elections that will produce a result acceptable to all. Moreover, we want the rest of the world to be satisfied that at last we have conducted our elections properly. Only after this can we expect to normalise our relations with them, and stop being a pariah state shunned by all true democracies.

The need for targeted measures against certain individuals would then fall away. We applaud the three principles to the GPA for agreeing to change from the polling station-based to ward-based voting system. This is an important decision as it protects the voter from post-election thuggery.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Diana

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