Tomorrow, Zimbabwe heads to the polls to choose a president. I’m feeling robbed. I wish I could be there and have the chance to have my say, but it’s not to be. The last time we voted was in 2008 and I missed out then because elections were a couple of months before my 18th birthday. Now I can’t vote because I’m in America. But in many ways, the reason I am in America is that I can’t vote, or rather it feels like my vote wouldn’t matter. Zimbabweans have been voting for change for over a decade now, but their efforts are always thwarted by election fraud, stuffing of ballot boxes and the thousands of dead people on the voters roll who somehow manage to vote on the day.
This isn’t what democracy should feel like. My feelings when i think of elections shouldn’t be fear and trepidation. Yet that’s what I always feel because elections in Zimbabwe are always accompanied by violence and intimidation. Remember 2008? Those elections were terrible. We heard all sorts of scary stories of people who disappeared only to reappear dead months later. It took almost a month to get the results of the election. How ridiculous is that? For a month we were held hostage, denied of the knowledge of what our future held. In the end, we got the government of national unity, but that wasn’t what we voted for was it?
And here we are now 5 years later, ready to choose our next president. Will our votes count this time? Will we finally have free and fair elections? I don’t know, but if I was in Zimbabwe, nothing would stop me from being in those voting booths tomorrow.
So my dear Zimbabweans, if you are registered to vote, go vote. If nothing changes then you can complain all day about it, but there is no way anything will change if you don’t vote.