When will they ever learn?

Some people refuse to learn from logic. Some refuse to learn from experience. We have a lot of bad cases of both in our unfortunate country. It is time for us all to raise our voices until they hear.

We can’t hold a fair election without a voters’ roll that we can check. ZANU refused that in 2002 and every election since.
They’ve dodged more conditions until in 2008 they admitted they couldn’t win a majority of the votes, but refused to give up power to the majority. When they got away with that trick, they were emboldened for 2013. Then there was no pretence that votes counted. It was who counted them that mattered, sometimes with voters excluded from the process at gunpoint.
Now we have all the traditional self-appointed politicians singing more or less the same tune and the song is “Vote. Vote, Vote!” What? And be Nikuved again?
I’m not following anyone into another “Look at all our support; we can’t lose” election. We can and did, too often, because we looked at the strength of our vote; we didn’t insist that the counting be done by an impartial body, with every stage of the process carried out as publicly as possible, in full view. But that’s only part of it. Don’t you remember how we thought we had scored a victory in 2005 with the ruling that votes should be counted in public at each polling station? That worked well enough in Mount Pleasant, where they could hardly stop you from sharing the results at your local polling station with the voters at the next polling station. But down there in Muzarabani and Mudzi, people were were being apprehended by the police for doing just that. The count may have been fair at the polling station, but somehow the figures changed (or why should we have been forbidden to share them?) before they were all put together.
These are just a few examples. I haven’t got a full list of conditions here, but those more clued up in constitutional law than I am can fill the gaps.
For a free and fair election, we need at least:
  1. a voters’ roll that we can all inspect in good time before the election – even the best roll will have some errors in it, and the more people who inspect it, the better the chance that errors will be corrected
  2. equal access to newspaper, radio and TV for all candidates (we’d need to give less time to independent candidates or those from parties contesting only a handful of seats, but everybody must be free to campaign)
  3. an independent, impartial body to supervise the election. ZEC is neither independent nor impartial. Nor are the police, the army or the chiefs who are so well rewarded for their loyalty to ZANU-PF. Why not go back to letting teachers do this? If most schools are polling stations, this is logical.
  4. counting needs to be transparent all the way up from the rural polling station to the provincial and national centres where the totals are calculated.
  5. Free access to observers, whether from the local community or international bodies.
If I don’t see all these, and anything experts agree I have forgotten, I WILL NOT VOTE. If we all do that, we could create a crisis, but we must show that the same old ZANU way is a dead end or we’ll just repeat 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013 and the world will say we must be satisfied because there’s not much blood on the streets. Is that the tradition you want to leave to your children?

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  1. David Barber

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