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Comment: This time tomorrow

TOMORROW, we can say with certainty, is a special day for Zimbabweans, a day which all of us have been waiting for. It is a day which will determine our future as a nation, the direction Zimbabwe must take, and the station it must occupy in the community of nations.

Tomorrow Zimbabweans go to the polls once again to elect their nation’s leaders. It should be a solemn occasion. You may be Zanu PF, you may be MDC or for Simba Makoni. What should preoccupy you at this hour of national calling is that we are all Zimbabweans first.
There are many honourable men and women who, over the years of suffering and toil, have resisted the impulse to go onto the streets in protest because of their abiding faith and belief that peaceful change is still possible.
There are many men and women who have been beaten, imprisoned, and tortured for their beliefs and freedom of choice. There are many others who have been brutalised by the state machinery. Despite all this, they have retained their faith that peaceful change can be achieved through the ballot box. We salute them all.
We salute them because we hope their faith in the democratic system we are fighting to build will not be frustrated by the actions of those who believe, very wrongly, that it is their right to rule until they die. Nor, we hope, will such faith be betrayed by the actions of those who promise a better future. Such promises are the only legitimate means open to them to get into power.
Our plea to the people of Zimbabwe is that all those who are eligible and are registered should all go and vote. Those who are not registered and therefore can’t vote should stay away, and not cause or create unnecessary confusion.
In urging Zimbabweans to go en masse to vote, we are equally mindful of the impediments placed in their way by the mammoth and solemn task they must undertake. Voting for a single candidate in past elections has presented problems. We imagine those problems will be four times more, given the four candidates they must elect in the short time available.
We are also mindful there may not be enough ballot booths or papers for a variety of reasons, to frustrate those who want to cast their ballot. But tomorrow is not a day to be frustrated by mischief-makers. Tomorrow is not a day to be discouraged by allegations of vote-rigging. Tomorrow is the day we should all look forward with hope that our dreams and the aspirations of our children shall find material expression in our ballot.
This is however not to pretend that as we go into this match we shall all emerge triumphant. That is not in the nature of real life. Our hope is based on the belief that those managing this solemn event will take it seriously and allow the will of the people to prevail.
We have in the past warned that the Kenyan violence provides a disturbing example of what happens after elections when the public lose faith in those administering them.
It nonetheless serves as a timely reminder of those unintended consequences of callous bungling in handling a sensitive issue such as the synchronised elections which Zimbabweans will be voting in tomorrow. Any reckless statements by the officials running the elections or the candidates contesting could ignite a conflagration enough to consume the whole nation. Only the devil’s foot soldiers in our midst could be working towards such a dastardly outcome.
When all is said and done, we still must say that we hope the aspiring leaders will be men and women of honour worthy of our trust. We must hope they will be honourable enough to accept the result of the match.
There is a catch: that is provided the match commissioners are deemed to have been fair and not to have influenced the result. The result may not suit us all, but it must be clear that it was our own failure as stakeholders which cost us the game, not tampering by people who feel that their personal interests are under threat.
Let us therefore all go and vote. There will be mischief-makers among us just as there will be men and women of goodwill. Let none sway us from the course to shape our nation’s destiny.
It is for this reason that we say let the contesting leaders give the ballot a chance by behaving themselves responsibly during and after the elections. May those plotting mayhem live to swallow their own tongues. We end with the title of a short play by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o for potential voters: “Where will you be, this time tomorrow?”


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