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Exercise your right to common sense

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Eight years ago, Cynthia Boaz, assistant professor of political science and international studies at the State University of New York, found herself “telling a passionate, proactive, socially conscious student that his choice to vote for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election was both irrational and counterproductive. I heard myself suggesting that in the future he seriously think about sacrificing his principles for a little common sense. I was suppressing my usual idealism for the skepticism wrought by the bleak reality of American presidential elections.”

She is referring here to the American electoral college system which makes it impossible for an independent candidate to win an election. The result was that Nader split the opposition vote, Gore lost and George W Bush was foisted upon mankind. Now let’s turn our gaze homeward.

Our election pits two opposition candidates against the incumbent. This argument assumes that if you are reading this, you are not in the 21st February movement. That leaves you with two candidates: Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. You, of course have the right to choose the candidate of your choice. It is the making of your choice, though that I would like to discuss.

Since Zimbabwean society has not yet got to the stage of deliberately spoilt ballots to make a non-point, it is safe to say that many of you had a choice before the election date was even announced. Your choice was anything but RGM. The problem with “anything but RGM” is you may or may not have ended up with a Frederick Chiluba as none other than Dumiso Dabengwa was quoted as pointing out in The Standard on Sunday. That, up to now, was a real possibility since Morgan Tsvangirai has been accused of various un-democratic tendencies by his erstwhile closest colleagues. We have also seen him prevaricate between participating in elections – the Senate fiasco – and making a power grab – agreeing to participate in the Presidential election. What has changed? We have seen him try and create space for his new found friends and their spouses in the Women’s Assembly fiasco while he asks RGM to take the plank of cronyism out of his eye. This was our anything but.

Now there is a new kid on the block, although he has been around for a while and has the experience that Hillary Clinton boasts of (not that it will help her). He is a proven moderate (does not make statements like “Mugabe will be out by Christmas” or “we will remove you violently”). He is a seasoned administrator and is respected internationally. For instance, he would not fall for a Ben Menashe. So now you have a real choice between two opposition candidates.

I must point out that Morgan has “suffered” for the country but then so did RGM, and you go in Zimbabwean politics knowing you will suffer. So that cannot be held up as a yardstick for qualification for leadership. In fact, both Morgan and RGM have visited suffering on others as Trudy Stevenson and Dumiso Dabengwa will readily testify. Everyone has “died” for Zimbabwe.

So what is the common sense decision? To go for your original choice of “anything but” for President or for the reasoned choice of the new kid on the block who represents the best possible opportunity to haul our beautiful country out of its self-inflicted mess?

Think about it.

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