Today is the last Sunday, two days before the General Election on Tuesday, August 9th, 2022. This is the most important period for the voter when you exercise your constitutional right and duty to choose your representatives.
If we do not vote wisely, or refuse to go to vote; we shall be stuck with the bad choices of leaders we make or others make for us for the next five years! Although transition elections tend to have high voter turnout, it is important to urge all registered voters to turn out.
Every vote counts and we need a decisive winner to avoid intractable contestations. Nevertheless, we pray and hope for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections, whose results are accepted by all candidates and those who contest the results, do so in court, not in the streets.
There are various reasons why we vote the way we do. Ethnicity; some voters habitually vote for presidential candidates from their ethnic community because they believe their person in State House will give them priority in development, economic and job opportunities.
In the past, although slightly veiled, this has been the case, especially with appointments in state and public positions. This is why the stakes in the presidential elections are usually so high. Others vote for individuals because of their track record and ideology; although this is a small group, it is growing exponentially because younger voters, are cosmopolitan and less ethnic.
It is likely that some voters will vote for beautiful and handsome candidates for lack of other choices! Other voters will vote for those who will give them money. In fact, I recall encountering voters in town centres waiting for candidates to “encourage” them go to the polling station to cast their votes!
There are also party loyalists, who knowing only their preferred presidential candidate, will vote for him and all the other candidates from the party/coalition. What factors influence voter turnout? They include weather, usually, people get to the polling stations early in the morning and with this cold and drizzle we should dress appropriately. Thankfully, the numbers of voters in each polling station are low, less than 1,000 therefore, the queues will be manageable. Go early and cast your vote. It is your destiny.
We hope there has been sufficient voter education to ensure a swift and seamless voting process, after all, handling six ballot papers at the same time is intimidating even to the most discerning voter.
A concern that our voters out of the country often raise as to why they do not vote, is the high cost of going to embassies/consulates to vote. This is an important but difficult issue to address conclusively. Some voters will not vote claiming they have no choice, because in most of the six elections they are presented with either of the two coalitions and may not like any of them.
These voters are classified as ignorant because, if they do not vote, someone will choose for them and either way they will be stuck with the choices. Therefore, it is better to vote for the best candidate of the choices presented by examining their campaign agendas, past records and leadership qualities.
You need to ask yourself, what are you looking for in a leader and do they have the capacity to address the current economic, social, political and cultural challenges? Who is the leader to accelerate realisation of sustainable development goals before they expire in 2030?
Who will care about climate change and ensure climate-smart agriculture which will yield food security and good nutrition? Who will provide universal health care to ensure people are healthy enough to generate wealth and bake the national cake?
Who will equitably and fairly share the national cake including opportunities for appointments and ensure fair and equitable geographical representation?
Who will listen and be the voice of those furthest left behind to ensure inclusion in all its forms and manifestations? Who will meet your immediate needs like clean and portable water?
Who will guarantee the rule of law and respect for human rights even when this may not be in his or her interests? If there is a leader close to this, please go out and vote, even if that leader has only a few of these qualities. Your vote matters. Don’t waste it.