‘Time to think about protecting the vote in 2023’ – Sindile Ncube
By Sindile Ncube
We are about 24 months away from another general election in Zimbabwe. What’s concerning is that there is a whiff of public disinterest about the election, maybe it’s exasperation, perhaps because people are invested in the hustle and bustle of trying to make a living in Zimbabwe.
But people also want change. No one in their right mind would want a continuation of the status quo in Zimbabwe. No one apart from Zanu PF subscribers and the party’s hangers on who by the way include ghastly pseudo clerics who have so much influence on people’s lives for reasons which will shame our generation when our grandchildren do a case study on us.
There are influencers who have admirably started a campaign to get people to register to vote in the 2023 general election. Indeed, if people want change they have to register to vote.
But as we know, in Zimbabwe, the act of casting a vote itself is not exhaustive of the democratic process. We all know the problem is not so much that people don’t come out to vote, it’s the fact that general elections are rigged in favour of Zanu PF.
What is needed, in addition to a strong campaign for voter registration, is an equally coordinated nationwide effort to protect that vote. Again let me reiterate an obvious observation, registering to vote when the vote is not protected will be as futile as all the previous general elections in Zimbabwe.
While I’m no electoral strategist, anyone with eyes will realise what we are trying to avoid here. Protecting the vote should be defined as a concerted effort by Zimbabweans who believe in democracy towards ensuring that votes are not corrupted during their storage, transportation and counting.
There are numerous actions which need to be undertaken to close all the loopholes that Zanu PF habitually use to rig the vote. For example, after people have cast their vote, the ballot boxes will need to be closely monitored every second until after all votes have been counted and collated.
If ballot boxes are to be moved from one point to another, they need to be monitored. The people responsible for storing or the transportation of ballot boxes need to be identified on camera and their veracity checked. As a matter of fact, the entire process of monitoring the votes needs to be captured on camera in a systematic way.
The only way to do this is perhaps by having cameras in and outside every polling station, teams on the ground watching everything, and then uploading the footage every hour on a website specifically dedicated to monitoring the voting process.
Admittedly, this requires serious infrastructure, and serious funding. That is the extent of the kind of hard work that is needed to make a vote count in a Zimbabwean general election, and this needs to start now.