Opposition MDC-T deputy president, Nelson Chamisa’s calls for compulsory voting for every citizen above the age of 18 and penalising those that do not exercise their right to vote is outrageous, shocking and despicable, to say the least.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) statistics during the last elections, less than 3,5 million voters cast their ballot out of a possible 6,5 million eligible voters, in a country with a population of over 13 million.
But calls for obligatory voting, coming at a time elections are beckoning from a representative of a political party that calls itself democratic, and is trying to push Zanu PF out of power because of the governing party’s alleged autocratic tendencies, are a new low for MDC-T, which hopes to take over the running of the country.
No doubt, previous efforts to dislodge Zanu PF from power have not yielded the opposition’s desired results. One wonders at the motivation behind Chamisa’s demands, as if it is a given those fair-minded “potential” voters are all opposition supporters. And in the event of a mandatory law, according to Chamisa, they will all vote for the MDC-T and its coalition partners.
What is worrisome about the comments attributed to the Kuwadzana East Member of Parliament, Chamisa, is that he continues to hallucinate over enforced voting for Zimbabweans instead of fighting for the Diaspora’s rights to vote, dual citizenship and other pertinent issues that require the Legislature to checkmate the Executive.
It is pertinent to state that Chamisa has made similar calls since 2014. No doubt, Chamisa is clearly ill-informed to believe part of the citizenry that has refrained from voting is the cause of the MDC-T’s failure to dislodge Zanu PF from power.
We are saddened we have not heard grumblings from the MDC-T since Chamisa launched his campaign to force or punish those that do not see reason to vote. We assume he is carrying out an MDC-T mandate on this subject.
But, if Chamisa thinks using the law to compel the citizenry to vote will increase the opposition votes, his approach is somewhat idealistic, if not naïve. Politicians must be aware that there are different reasons and motivations why citizens do not vote.
We believe Chamisa should exhaustively explore these reasons before uttering anything. We are aware that there is a significant percentage of the population that won’t vote due to their beliefs and compelling them to vote could be a violation of their constitutional right of religious freedom and other civil liberties.
There are others, who have resigned to fate, after having watched their vote failing to count for anything in previous polls.
It is ironic because the MDC-T itself has a long history of boycotting elections. How could the party have the nerve to force everyone to vote in any election in violation of people’s rights?
It is not about Brazil, Australia or any other countries having such a law, but it is how the opposition party should do some serious soul-searching and perhaps consider strategising on winning ways, rather than seek to punish the populace for what they believe, and violate their rights.
In fact, Chamisa or the MDC-T, should intensify voter education or, better still, establish from die-hard Zanu PF supporters why they continue to vote for a party that has run down the country.
Such information could come in handy for the opposition, as they relook their strategies and map their way forward.-newsday