US Presidential Election Resonates in Zimbabwe

Barack Obama is Re-elected after winning key swing states

Barack Obama is Re-elected after winning key swing states. Image byLaura Fong, copyright Demotix (7 Nov 2012)

The just-ended United States election has got Zimbabweans excited as they face their own elections next year. Citizens are marveling at the speed the election results were announced, how presidential hopeful Mitt Romney “quickly” accepted defeat and how smooth the whole process seemed to them. Because of Zimbabwe’s own history of disputed polls, citizens took to social media platforms to create online conversations about what is missing in their own country and how Zimbabwe could benefit from a similar electoral process.

On Facebook, Chris Gande posted:

I wish Zimbabweans would put the same passion and interest in their politics like they are doing to the US elections.

Frank Wekwa Chikowore joined the conversation and posted on Chirs Gande’s wall:

The problem is that some, if not many, Zimbabweans do not have faith in the electoral system.

Wellington Magaya wrote:

Our politicians are thieves all they know is lining up their pockets,grabbing private property,divorcing, marrying and remarrying,trading insults,hate speech ……………..

Jeff Mwakaluka Jnr noted:

The problem is that most people in Zimbabwe are self centred hence they betrayed each other into the hands of the ruling party agents when they unleashed the terror on those who have divergent views…

Chris Gande responded to Jeff’s post:

I agree with you Jeff but still I think if we were to translate our obsession with US politics into our own local politics we would stem the rot. The obsession with US politics is so overwhelming. Even Americans themselves are not as obsessed as some of us both here in the US and at home.

Esnath Kapito added her own spin:

Gande sir I think after being emotionally brainwashed into thinking the CIO are everywhere&can hear everything negative u say about the gvmt&the past trauma&horrific rapes&killings Zimbabweans went thru,has left a sour taste in most pples mouth&indelible images in their minds to dare speak openly,or openly be politically active.wats more how can u be interested in politics where the voice&will of the populus is ignored thru riggings,&intimidation!those who dare show an interest albeit in the opposition are doing so outside Zims border using pseudomn names!!at least with Americans there's an unpredictableness of the outcomes,whilst Zim ppl have been voting since 1980 with the same outcome,u can't blame pple for showing lack of interest,there's nothing fresh,no transparency,no media freedom,opposition is stifled&frustrated to pittance&no or little platform to communicate&garner support thru media!I would rather be caught up in action packed American politics,than the 1980 soapie that is Zim politics!sorry for not be patriotic!

Barbara Bhebhe joined in and posted:

i think there is a significant number of Zimbabweans interested not only in our local elections but politics. Our acquaintance to politics at a local level is what gives us interest in global politics. Contrary to the sentiments expressed by others – i think interest in the US election by Zimbabweans is just an indication that we are yearning to see democracy at home. And Yes! come election time – we will be looking forward to a free and fair race.

Dominic Muntanga observed:

In Zimbabwean elections, people who participate are the party loyalists and the majority of people do not vote, in part because of the violence associated with our politics. Most people who volunteer in the US elections are students, retirees and others who believe in civic participation. It is part of the social fabric to give back and participate in elections. At home, we do not yet have a strong sense of civic engagement, except when it involves churches. Philanthropy is directed at the church and the nuclear and extended family and the village. These are the social and cultural facets that underpin the politics of our nation. If someone lives in the USA they should be interested in US politics in part because it is what people do here. Secondly, people here know the stats because they are readily available and information is right there on your screen. Elections in the USA are an industry and they create jobs. In this one alone, more than $3 billion has been spent. This adds to the interest. In Zimbabwe, this is not much of an industry. Campaigns are not run by strategists and experts, but by the party loyalists who sometimes resort to violence if things do not go their way.

Sikhulile Consummate Dube had a warning:

passion = button stick in Zimbabwe.

On Twitter, Zimbabweans were not quiet either:

@joeblackzw: And media is allowed to predict. You can be arrested in Zimbabwe for predicting Bob (President Robert Mugabe)’s loss on national media.

Education Minister David Coltart tweeted:

@DavidColtart: It takes an election in such a vast country and so close to show us #Zimbabweans what we need to do if we are to respect our right to elect.

Minister Coltart also tweeted:

@DavidColtart We #Zimbabweans need to ask ourselves why it is that a close election in the USA can be called within hours whereas in #Zim it takes weeks.

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