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'Rural voters show fealty to Zanu PF,' says Matyszak - but does that count as free vote

12 Aug 2018 at 06:49hrs | Views
Dear Derek Matyszak

I would like to thank you for your excellent article in Zimeye. Thank you.

I believe the issue of whether or not these elections were free, fair and credible is a very important one and one that must be addressed head on. I do not think you did this.

"Viewing elections through an urban lens can be highly misleading, as rural voters are often motivated by different considerations to those of their urban counterparts," you wrote.

"Without ignoring the fact that Zanu-PF has considerable and ardent support among rural voters, it is clear that clientelism plays an important role.

"Many rural voters in Zimbabwe seem to view elections as an opportunity to show fealty to those in power rather than an exercise of democratic choice.

"Loyalty is rewarded in the form of food aid and free agricultural inputs.

"Backing the "wrong" candidate can attract harsh reprisals – an election "promise" ZANU-PF has a reputation for keeping.

"A rural voter then may make a pragmatic and carefully considered calculation as to who will win, and vote with head rather than heart."

Are you saying that Zanu PF has the right to use the carrot and stick on the rural voters and the victims will still be counted as having made a democratic choice?

Why bother talking about free, fair and credible elections as a birth right when the reality to the rural voter is that this is a curse because 38 years of corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF rule has left 75% of the population living in abject poverty. The rural folk are the poorest of the poor. How anyone can still pretend the rural voter would still support Zanu PF if they had a free choice beggars belief!

The rural people are the poorest, the least informed, the most exploited, the most oppressed, etc., etc. but do not ever make the mistake of thinking they are stupid. If a political environment was ever created in which they were allowed to cast a free vote confident they will never be punished if Zanu PF lost the elections you will be surprised how few rural voters will vote for Zanu PF.

These elections were not free, fair and credible in that the rural voters were bribed and worse still threatened. The right to free, fair and credible elections should not be enjoyed by the urban voters alone but the rural voters too!

"An opinion poll conducted just a month before the election by Afro Barometer gave Mnangagwa a slim lead," you argued.

In a country where the rural voters constitution 70% of the electorate have no free vote opinion polls are totally meaningless.
These elections should have not taken place without first implement the democratic reforms designed to take away Zanu PF's dictatorial powers, the carrot and the whip, the regime enjoys over the rural population. MDC leaders were supposed to have implemented the reforms during the GNU but failed to do so. Still this does not mean we should just give up and leave Zanu PF to continue to ride roughshod over the people especially the most disadvantaged and long suffering rural povo.

One of the greatest disappointments to come out of these 2018 elections is how many MDC politicians do not seem to know what constitute free, fair and credible elections. How anyone could anyone expect free and fair elections when ZEC failed to produce something as basic as a verified voters' roll? It turns out that more than 10 polling stations had more than 100% voter turnout and some even had more than 200%.

Of course, these elections were not free, fair and credible and must be condemned in the strongest terms.

Best regards
Patrick Guramatunhu.


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