nelson chamisa 28-03-2012.png

Nelson Chamisa

By Tafara Shumba

The dangerous remark on compulsory voting system recklessly made by one of the vice presidents of the MDC-T, Pastor Nelson Chamisa, came at a time when many people had almost pinned the hope and future of the opposition party on him.

Pastor Chamisa recently called for compulsory voting for every citizen above the age of majority and urged the nation to take after Australia which has an obligatory voting system where citizens who refrain from voting are penalised. The utterances drew prompt scorn from Zimbabweans across the political divide. However, what is worrisome is the paucity of official reaction from MDC-T to its deputy president’s unfortunate remarks. In the absence of any official rebuttal or any comment on the remarks, one can safely conclude that Chamisa’s remark is a true reflection of what his party believes in.  Ordinarily, such utterances would have seen Obert Gutu, the party’s spokesperson springing into action to distance the party from the regrettable statement.

Paradoxically, Chamisa’s proposed regressive law will see his party being the first offender. Tsvangirai in particular is renowned for boycotting elections. The MDC-T must be the first casualty of the undemocratic law before penalising guiltless people who refrain from voting for their own beliefs, some of which could be religious. Some Christians for instance, must be respected as much as they do not also force anyone to go to church. Next time it will not surprise anyone to see Pastor Chamisa with his fast developing traits of tyranny, lobbying for a compulsory Christian initiation.

It now confuses everybody to see a party that claims to champion for democracy in Zimbabwe, advocating the adoption of despotic systems. Chamisa must be reminded that he belongs to a party that was wrongly named Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC-T and Chamisa in particular has shown a deep misconstruction of the term democracy. It is actually a misnomer for that party to include ‘democracy’ as part of its name unless it is a misspelling for ‘undemocratic.’ It has been proven beyond doubt that not even a single person in the MDC-T espouses democratic principles. Trying to find one democratic individual in the MDC-T is like trying to find a virgin prostitute. Thus, referring that party as a democratic movement is like conflating a church with a beer hall. That is dangerous, for some innocent people will unknowingly end up in a beer hall thinking they are in a church.

“All they know is preaching about democracy but they wouldn’t recognise it even if it slapped them in the face. How can they claim to be more democratic than Zanu PF and still threaten to imprison and fine people who choose not to vote,” commented one reader. He indeed summed it up.

Chamisa and his party are lobbying activists such as Fadzai Mahere to mount constitutional challenge to force government to adopt a mandatory voting system. They are lobbying because they are not in power and if they get into power, obviously the issue of voting will become obligatory. Citizens must, therefore, brace up for more ‘force matters’ should the MDC-T miraculously get into power. That party is replete with dictators in the making. The last time we checked, Zimbabwe was a democracy where people had a right to vote or not to. Compulsory voting is even worse than being denied the right to vote. Even Ian Smith never forced people to vote. He knew better than the learned advocate that forcing people to vote is undemocratic and definitely not liberal.

Of course, it’s a good thing for citizens to vote in a democracy but nobody must be forced to vote. The fact that mandatory voting system is practised in Australia does not make it a democratic practice. There are actually more prosperous democracies that do not force people to vote. Zimbabwe can as well take after them. The problem with puppets is that they always think that what puppeteers do is sacrosanct that must be swallowed hook, line and sinker. Does that mean Zimbabwe must also take after Saudi Arabia which prohibits women from driving? North Korea makes it mandatory for every citizen above the age of 18 to serve in the military for 10 years before they join professions of their choices. Chamisa seems to suggest that we must blindly copy them.

Even one of their masters in the New York State Assembly, Deborah Glick, a Democrat, recently introduced legislation proposal that would establish compulsory voting in that State and punish those who don’t vote with a $10 fine. They can do that in the US but in a democratic system like ours, it has one tiny flaw, it’s not democratic. The whole point of democracy is freedom.

Chamisa wrongly believes that those who refrain from voting are MDC-T supporters. That is wrong. There is no guarantee that if they are force marched into the ballot booth; they will invest their vote in the MDC-T. You can only force a donkey to the river but you cannot force it to drink. The MDC-T has failed to sell themselves to the electorate, thus they think forcing them to vote will take them to the State House. No, that is a regressive policy that would hurt the citizens.

It is not the first time that the young politician has acted in a manner that is incompatible with the principles his party was founded on. He is a deputy president of a labour party but his judicial miscarriage at one time sent over 20 000 citizens into the street. He is the lawyer behind the infamous July 17 ruling that allowed employers to dismiss employees on notice. His lust for money became superior to ideological considerations. His political immaturity and misguided youthful exuberance are playing havoc in his cognitive faculties.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.