Can we really afford elections?

For the sole reason that the political environment is tilted in its favor, ZANU PF is adamant that elections be held this year. The two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, together with civil society organizations have insisted on elections after critical reforms which guarantees a conducive environment. Can Zimbabwe really afford elections particularly as the country is recuperating from decades of financial mismanagement and corruption? Is it feasible for a country plagued with poverty, unemployment, poor social services including poor health and education, food insecurity, political intolerance and impunity to hold elections which drain on the fiscus and which could lead to another bloodbath?

In October 2011, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it required US$220 million to hold both a referendum and fresh parliamentary and presidential elections and also a sum of US$37.2 million is required to carry out the 2012 Population Census. It is apparent that political matters have diverted the attention of government from the crucial social and economic issues which are fundamental if the inclusive government is to develop a democratic developmental state. The past decade has witnessed various Government run Institutions dilapidating due to negligence from the Government as they tend to ponder on political matters more.

Zimbabwe's health delivery system which was once the pride of the region has been ranked among the worst in the world by the World Health Organization and is expected to deteriorate further if the Government fails to provide adequate funding as they focus more on the political issues affecting the land. An estimated 100 children are dying every day due to easily preventable diseases, while at least 8 women die every day due to pregnancy related complications. Hospitals suffer from water and staff shortages and nothing is being done by the Government to alleviate these plights. Barely three years ago the country was ravaged by a cholera pandemic that affected Harare the most. Thousands of lives were lost due to the insensitivity and negligence to the plight of the poor and vulnerable by the Government. The year 2008-2009 reported 98531 cases of cholera outbreak which resulted in an estimated death toll of about 4232 people. The Government has not yet met the Abuja commitment of giving 15% of the Government budget to the health sector hence there has been poor delivery within the sector. The year 2012 saw typhoid affecting parts of Harare namely Warren Park and Kuwadzana and efforts to combat such diseases by the Government were done half heartedly as they concentrated more on the lingering Constitution making process.

The country's educational sector is facing an educational predicament of unparalleled levels, as a lot of challenges have impeded its stability. US$ 54 million is needed to revive the education sector. Having been commended in the past years as the most powerful educational system in Africa and in the world the education sector in Zimbabwe is almost on its knees and has been affected by political instability and lack of adequate pool of skilled teachers. Zimbabwe is lagging behind other third world countries in terms of availability of adequate facilities and public expenditure. The Government has failed to alleviate the plight of the teachers who earn below the poverty datum line as they have extravagantly supported the Constitution making process were the workers dine and sleep in expensive hotels. As part of the Millennium Development Goals introduced in 2007 sent a comprehensible and powerful message to governments to act of their pledge and promises to work in tandem with their ministries and parliamentarians so as to improve the state of education. Zimbabwe being one of the best African states in terms of literacy rate has in the past years declined due to poor policies towards the education sector.

ZESA is owed more than US$450 million by its customers with most of this balance emanating from top government officials. ZESA currently owes US$ 5 million to Hydro Cahora Basa of Mozambique which supplies Zimbabwe with about 500 Megawatts of electricity to cover shortfalls resulting in increased load shedding. The authority has treated top Government officials as sacred cows yet they are the biggest defaulters. President Mugabe owes USD345, 000 while Manicaland Governor, Christopher Mushowe owes USD367, 606.07 and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo owes the national power utility $130,000, for power supplied to his Allan Grange farm in Mashonaland West province. All these Government officials are calling for elections yet they owe huge sums of money which has affected the ordinary Zimbabweans. They have to pay up first so that people get better electricity supply then the people can go for an election.

The past thirty two years have witnessed Zimbabweans falling prey to the politics of the land. The consequences of Zimbabwe's misgovernment have been social as well as economic. Standards of social service delivery have greatly fallen as they is minimum access to clean and affordable water supplies, poor health services, improper sanitation, poor road infrastructure and a decline of standards in the education sector.   Social service delivery has been over taken by political events such as the Constitution making process and the recent hype of elections leading to the fall of standards in most Government run Institutions. Social service delivery is a national problem in Zimbabwe, water shortages, burst sewers, uncollected garbage, potholes, dysfunctional traffic lights and power cuts are some of the daily challenges faced by Zimbabweans. People tasked with running social services are partisan and not answerable to the masses as they advocate for their political objectives. Access to clean water, good health and education facilities are basic human rights which should come first in every nation as they are bigger than any political party in the nation.

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