The first and only time I cast my vote in a Presidential election, was in the inglorious election of March 2008!!! I traveled to my home town that weekend specifically for this occasion , as this was at the time one of the most important exercises of my rights as a young and hopeful citizen.
Because of the significance of this election to our economic environment most company bosses were very lenient and had taken the father Christmas approach in dishing out off days to workers, with “zivai pekuvhotera” (vote wisely) communicated directly or indirectly. There is no need for explaining what that ambiguous phrase meant.
Going home to vote
So I took the long and tiring but given the circumstances was undoubtedly an inspiring journey to yonder, roughly 365 km North from Harare.
I remember the general mood and atmosphere in the country, particularly with us the younger folks. The ones who were often referred to as born frees in sarcastic tones as a way of dismissing and belittling our concerns for our country, thanks to heavily oiled propaganda instruments. This election meant more to us than the generations that had lived in the agony of the liberation struggle. Ours was a different kind of agony……..
It was a case of extreme Euphoria interlaced with apprehension, but there has never been a time we were more hopeful for a change, even in the midst of uncertainty, biased propaganda, fear and frankly speaking those suffocating monotonous jingles that were force fed on us and had become part of our daily existence since the politics of opposition began.
I voted for Morgan Tsvangirai
March 29, in that booth where my vote was my secret, with a smug smile and self-satisfied assurance, I put my imprints proudly on to the candidate many of our citizens were so convinced was our Political Messiah. Whether this was actual or notional was another story But Morgan Tsvangirai was unarguably the man of the moment and his political opposition career in the past 8 years or so were a testament that we might have been going places.
Voting despite intimidation
He, the man who heralded Change in great avalanche that we so badly needed. He had an unconcealed track record, A tiger that had earned his stripes……literally. His MDCs party’s manifesto was that which I was willing to throw my dice on. But partly it was because of an inner defiance on my part to exercise the right to choose whomever I wanted, despite the scare tactics, bullying and shaming that had been commonly employed.
This is the same defiance that had me cast my vote for John Houghton a white MDC mayoral candidate for my constituency, who later won. Of course you can imagine that this automatically came with the label “sell out” but the Thought Police were not going to have their way with me!
Needless to say, what happened after that election was History text book material!
Today my political views are best described as “its complicated” But I cannot argue and if you too are to ascribe justice, that Tsvangirai charted a course, that will remain in the hallmarks of our modern day Zimbabwe. He steered the winds in a certain direction and our nation was never to be the same.
The socio-political climate we are in, is to a certain extent a seismic effect of the political endeavours and confrontations of this man and his party. And for him it was not without immense tribulations, he paid a heavy prize!
He never got to see the new Zimbabwe
It is heart-wrenching that he will not witness the glorious Zimbabwe that he broke hard ground for……(If ever there is going to be such a thing anytime soon) , forgive my apathy.
In the news of his demise, I do not wish to talk of his political flaws or descend into our typical Zimbo, I’m right and you are wrong politicking, while we gnaw at each other fruitlessly. For now, let us mourn a hero whose watch has ended.
Rest in Peace Dr Morgan Tsvangirai, the Muhammad Ali of Zimbabwe’s opposition politics. For you I will fly #ThisFlag low.