HARARE – We have since gone beyond bullets and rockets. This is a battle of the minds; a battle of policies, ideas and concepts.
We are looking at brains and not brawn. We are not going to explode bombs and mortars. No. The armed liberation struggle is over. It was bravely fought by the gallant sons and daughters of the soil.
They had to resort to an armed struggle in order to dislodge a racist and fascist settler regime. That was then.
We are forever grateful to the comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that Zimbabwe gained sovereignty on April 18, 1980
Today’s battle is going to be won using the ballot and not the bullet. Yes. You can liberate yourselves from your current state of penury by merely resorting to the ballot. Don’t be fooled.
Don’t be intimidated. Feel free. Feel liberated. Adopt the “yes, we can’’ attitude. It can be done. Indeed, it should be done.
On July 14 and 15, 2013 members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and some members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) as well as the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) are going to vote under the special voting mechanism that is going to be conducted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
Statistics at hand show that about 69 000 members of the ZRP have applied for special voting; together with about 15 000 Zec officials; 140 ZNA personnel and about 2 000 ZPS officers.
There is a lot of apprehension and anxiety regarding how members of the uniformed forces are going to vote.
Many people are concerned that members of the uniformed forces are going to be literally ordered whom to vote for by their superiors.
Thanks to recent amendments to the electoral laws of Zimbabwe, members of the uniformed forces are, this time around, going to vote at designated civilian polling centres as opposed to voting at their police stations and military cantonment areas under the watchful eye of their senior officers and commanders.
The main thrust of this article is to debunk the myth that members of the uniformed forces are going to vote for regime retention, autocracy, obscurantism and dictatorship.
Far from it, Zimbabwe has a hugely educated and sophisticated security service.
These are generally men and women of honour and integrity who basically know what they want. They are not stooges and puppets of some of their evil-intentioned superiors.
The vast majority of members of the uniformed forces are young men and women with a decent education. They have suffered and continue to suffer largely as a result of poor salaries and generally, demotivating working conditions.
They are patriots who have chosen to serve their country first and foremost. They are not motivated by greed and avarice.
They deserve our respect instead of condemnation.
Their future cannot be guaranteed by voting for a political party that has pauperised them and reduced them to virtual beggars in the land of their birth.
A political party that has perfected the “art’’ of kleptocracy, corruption and looting. They are fully aware of the inherent dangers of voting for Zanu PF; a party that has successfully run down this otherwise beautiful country over the past three decades or so.
Put simply, members of our uniformed forces are not fools. They have never been fools and they will never be fools.
Trust them to do the right thing as they enter the polling booths on July 14 and 15, 2013. We have absolutely no reason to panic.
These young ladies and gentlemen know that their future is in their hands. Indeed, they are acutely aware of the fact that they can help usher in a New Zimbabwe by voting correctly.
If anything, the whole nation has reason to celebrate and applaud these gallant sons and daughters of the motherland who have chosen to serve their country by joining the uniformed forces.
Zec has promised the nation that the special voting mechanism will be professionally run.
There is absolutely no reason to doubt the competence and resilience of the Zec chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau.
Some of us have known her for more than three decades.
She is an astute lawyer of impeccable credentials. Yes; she has a solid professional reputation to protect.
Believe you me; there is no way in which she is going to soil her hard-earned professional reputation and profile by conducting a shoddy and dubious plebiscite that will not pass the test of legitimacy.
We all know that the previous top administration of Zec has hardly done anything to invoke the people’s trust in them.
It took more than a month for the previous Zec chairperson to announce the results of the presidential election in March, 2008.
With the greatest of respect, that was an unmitigated disgrace particularly to the learned profession of lawyers of which I am a very proud member.
I can bet you my bottom dollar that Justice Rita Makarau is not going to scandalise her reputation by flagrantly and blatantly taking sides with certain political forces as she discharges her otherwise very onerous and demanding duties as the Zec chairperson.
She takes her professional reputation seriously. Trust me.
It is said that the test of the pudding is in the mouth. Yes, I associate myself with that observation.
But then; we should not just condemn personalities and institutions before we have subjected them to a rigorous and strenuous test.
The problem we now have in Zimbabwe is the sad fact that most of our State and constitutional institutions have traditionally failed to acquit themselves well when it comes to the competent discharge of their core duties.
We have a situation whereby some rogue and renegade elements in both the army and the police force have uttered very unsavoury and unsettling remarks regarding the political situation in the country.
We should not be unduly concerned and worried by the wayward and sordidly absurd public remarks that are occasionally uttered by some of these characters.
This is just but a very tiny minority of our uniformed forces. The nation should not lose sleep over the delusional and reckless remarks of these wayward characters.
These are men and women with very huge skeletons in their cupboards. They are not patriots. No. They have, over the years, accumulated personal wealth through illicit and corrupt means.
Largely, this is the reason why they are bent on regime retention. They do so for purely selfish and not patriotic reasons.
They have everything to lose should a more responsible and people-loving government take over the reigns of power. They are scared. Very scared.
We kindly call upon the majority of the uniformed forces to know that the people of Zimbabwe love and respect them.
They are not our enemies. If anything, they are our protectors. Election 2013 is a historic event.
This is an opportunity for Zimbabwe to liberate herself, permanently, from a regime that has turned cannibalistic.
A regime that has systematically looted public resources such as gold and diamonds and made sure that no less than 80 percent of the population of 14 million people live on less than US$2 per day; hence they are classified as living in abject poverty by United Nations standards.
We should use this make or break plebiscite to vote for more. We should refuse to return to power a dictatorship that has since mutated into a Frankenstein gerontocracy.
This is our God-given opportunity to totally reject the ill-conceived policy of so-called indigenisation and empowerment.
This half-baked and crooked nihilist policy has reduced Zimbabwe to a country of vendors and beggars.
We should vote for a political party that will uplift the economy, tenaciously defend the constitution, re-integrate Zimbabwe into the international community, devolve power to the local level, govern and not rule the people and more importantly, a party that will bring back social justice.
The peace-loving people of Zimbabwe deserve a government that will love them and not persecute them; a government that will commit itself to good governance.
Beginning with the special voting that is scheduled to take place on July 14 and 15, 2013, the great nation of Zimbabwe enters a defining moment.
This is our time to shine. This is our sacred opportunity to retire the nonagenarians amongst us. Yes. We should refuse to abuse our elders by entrusting them with the onerous task of running and administering the affairs of State.
This duty should be left to the relatively young and energetic. We love our elders, but we know that it’s time up for them.
It’s game over. They cannot be trusted to right the wrongs of theirs over three decades in power.
They are a tried and failed political force who should now respectfully retreat into retirement.
Our uniformed forces are definitely going to set a very good example when they go to the polls in the next few days.
Come August 1, 2013, Zimbabwe will never be the same again.
Obert Gutu is the MDC Harare provincial spokesperson. He is also the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.