After months of campaigning, Election Day is almost upon us. Supporters of both main candidates are expectant and confident, and the country is delicately poised.
Both candidates are imperfect. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but fundamentally, both want what is best for Zimbabwe. The debate is over who can make it happen.
The most recent high quality poll, by international research group AfroBarometer, shows ED with a small but clear lead over Chamisa. Most crucially, it shows that up to 20% of Zimbabweans are yet to make up their mind on who to vote for.
I wanted to write an article for those voters, setting out what I believe are the main differences between the two men.
But then, over the course of this week, they wrote the article for me. For when I looked at the conduct of each man during the final week of the campaign, I realised that one stands head and shoulders above the other when it comes to what I believe is the most important thing we need in our next president – the ability to make things happen.
First, lets look at the main challenger, Nelson Chamisa. For him, this has been a week dominated by disputes over the conduct of the election. This time last week, fresh from a boost in the polls, I expected him to spend the week focussed on his message of change and making his final pitch to the voters.
Instead, he has been side-tracked by his ‘will he, won’t he’ saga over boycotting the election. Finally, after months of going back and forth, and multiple 24 hour deadlines that were later amended, he announced that he will in fact be competing.
It’s not that I have an issue with this decision. My concern is more with a leader that seems incapable of following through on his promises and threats. For weeks Chamisa has been threatening ZEC that if they don’t accede to his demands he will boycott the polls. They have ignored his threats, and in the end he has gone along with it all. Hardly the sign of leadership.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Chamisa without a few silly comments. This week’s most absurd were the claims that Tsvangirai was murdered by the state and that an election can only be free and fair if he wins!
So, those hoping for a powerful and persuasive final week were left disappointed. In the biggest week of his life, Chamisa has failed to deliver.
In contrast, ED has had a quietly effective week. Not of fantastical claims, but of action.
ED has taken the decision that irrespective of the election, he will continue to govern right up until Election Day. So given the choice between campaigning and working to improve Zimbabwe, he has chosen the latter.
This week has seen the start of the airport expansion, the ground-breaking of the biggest mining project in Zimbabwe’s history, the launch of the huge African Chrome Fields plant and a massive student loans facility, worth $1.5bn, which will revolutionise Zimbabwe’s tertiary education sector.
As if this wasn’t enough, he ended the week at the BRICS Summit, a meeting of five of the world’s fastest growing economies, pushing our economic and trade interests. Travelling to an international forum three days before an election is unheard of, but for ED, the country’s needs come first.
And so, for any undecided voter, the last week has been highly instructive. For they have been presented with a clear choice – concrete actions or hollow words. Strong leadership or an empty vessel.
I believe that this contrast will help to make up a lot of minds in the final few days, and with the 20% of undecided voters leaning towards ED, a decisive first round victory is imminent.
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