Political Campaigns In Zimbabwe : A Brief Introduction
If ever the English adage “a man is as good as his latest performance ” matters, it is in Zimbabwe political campaigns that it matters most.
Over the years, the average Zimbabwean voter has stopped worrying about the history of the candidate they vote for. The average voter is now concerned about how the candidate made them feel during the campaign period. Did they make us dance in huge crowds? Did they bring us something nice? Did they promise fire and brimstone if we don’t vote them and explicitly demonstrate that? Did they make us laugh? Did they make us chant a slogan?
The average voter doesn’t read manifestos. He doesn’t care if a candidate was a bully at High School or is the one who translated the Ten Commandments to indigenous languages. The average voter is rather concerned about how the candidate made them feel during the campaign period.
If a candidate doesn’t do rallies, he/she doesn’t attract the average voter because the average voter has herd mentality. The average voter decides well within a group.
The above average voter rarely attends rallies but they have so much connections that they get to analyse every speech and every event by every candidate. While the average voter is attending rallies, interfaces and demonstrations, the above average voter is studying manifestos of every candidate and listening to commentary. At times the above average voter gets to be called an expert or an analyst by centrist media houses.
The above average voter is also concerned about academic qualifications of candidates and their employment history or administrative capacity.
Then there’s the below average voter. It is for lack of a better term that I have to call them below average. This voter votes for someone of a particular race, particular tribe, particular gender, particular residential address. They listen to all speeches and manifestos within the prism of their race, tribe, gender, street name or village. They look at a candidate’s nuclear team and ask begin to analyze population dynamics in therein. What percentage of his/her core team are from my village? Where was each and every member of that team before they joined the the team? Such are the interests of the below average voter.
They care less about manifestos but will attend rallies to pick racial, tribal, chauvinist, ageist and regionalist innuendo in speeches, songs and regalia.
The majority of the voters of Zimbabwe are in the average and below average cohort.
The media subconsciously and unanimously identifies politicians who appeal to the average and below average voters and terms them “top contenders “.
I wish I had known this in 2013, but as I have been saying recently, we all make mistakes in life. Those who are clever than some of us will learn from our mistakes yet those less clever will prefer to learn from their own share of mistakes.
Discent Bajila is the Welshman Ncube Youth Secretary General.
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