Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Vote Buying rampant ahead of Elections

by Stephen Jakes
01 Aug 2023 at 17:58hrs | Views
A human and civil rights activist Obert Chinhamo has expressed concerns over the escalation of vote buying ahead of elections describing it as a clear violation of the electoral act and human rights to choose leaders of their choice.

"The Zimbabwean political campaign period ahead of the 23rd of August 2023 is a hive of activity characterized by a myriad of activities by political candidates and their supporters promoting their candidacy and persuade voters to support them," he said.

"It has emerged during this campaigning period that genuine political campaigning is being confused with vote buying. I have heard some politicians arguing that one cannot claim to be campaigning without offering material incentives and other benefits to voters."

He said political parties, such as the ruling ZANU PF political party, have embarked on a vote-buying spree under the pretext of political campaigning, in which its candidates are offering material incentives and other benefits to voters in exchange for votes.

"For instance, in the Mabvuku Constituency one Scott Sakupwanya has launched a US$1 million loan facility to voters as well as free buses to and fro Harare Central Business District. In the Redcliff Constituency boreholes are being drilled at a rate that had never been seen before. In Epworth residents ZANU PF has offered title deeds as part of the formalization of informal settlements," he said.

"The main challenge is that these political parties were not giving these material incentives and other benefits immediately after the 2018 elections but have surfaced ahead of the 23rd of August 2023 elections."

He said in the town of Redcliff, I met a politician arguing that one can not claim to be campaigning if he or she is not dishing out food, beer, money and other incentives to the electorate.

He said according to this politician, campaigning is not effective when there are no incentives to the electorate.

"This is exactly what prompted me to write this opinion seeking to differentiate vote buying and campaigning since these concepts are distinct practices in the context of elections. It is my understanding that political campaigning refers to the activities carried out by political candidates and their supporters to promote their candidacy and persuade voters to support them," he said.

"Campaigning include a variety of activities, such as public speeches, debates, advertising, canvassing, and social media outreach. The goal of campaigning is to persuade voters to support a candidate based on their policy positions, qualifications, and other factors."

Chinhamo said on the other hand, vote buying refers to the practice of offering material incentives or other benefits to voters in exchange for their vote.

He said this can include offering money, food, clothing, or other goods or services.

"Vote buying is generally considered unethical and illegal, as it undermines the integrity of the election process and can lead to corruption and unfair outcomes.

In addition, when candidates or political parties offer money or other incentives in exchange for votes, it essentially reduces the value of a citizen's vote to a commodity that can be bought and sold," he said.

"This can result in voters making decisions based on personal gain rather than on the merits of the candidate or the issues at stake, which can lead to the election of candidates who may not be the best qualified or most representative of the electorate."

He said furthermore, vote buying can create a culture of corruption and a lack of trust in the political system. It can also disenfranchise voters who cannot afford to accept bribes or who are not targeted by vote-buying campaigns.

"In Zimbabwe, vote buying is illegal and can result in criminal charges and penalties. It is important for political campaigns to adhere to ethical standards and to promote transparency and accountability in the democratic process, which helps to ensure that elections are fair and free from corruption," he said.

"I wish to state that politician campaigning is a legitimate and legal practice that seeks to persuade voters based on the merits of a candidate and his or her political party, while vote buying is an illegal and unethical practice that seeks to bribe voters with material incentives."

Source - Byo24News