TODAY the people of the south in general, and the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands in particular, have a unique opportunity to set historical wrongs right, as Zimbabwe goes for elections.
No other region has had to face the brunt of underdevelopment as as the south-western part of this country over the last 33 years and nowhere has de-industralisation been felt as Bulawayo.
While the rest of the country gained from Zanu PF’s largesse and social spending in the 1980s, Matabeleland and the Midlands were left behind, as the region was under a state of emergency that was only lifted in 1990.
Since then Matabeleland has had to play catch-up with the rest of the country. But as we all know, the government introduced the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) and cut on social spending, meaning the region did not benefit from the government’s budgets that were tilted towards education and health.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Matabeleland has consistently voted for opposition parties, as they feel that they have not benefited from the Zanu PF governments since 1980.
Despite these legitimate concerns, the people of the region have been wrongfully labelled cry-babies, and unfortunately they have since developed an apathetic approach to national processes.
Hence we make a clarion call to the people of the south and Matabeleland to turn up in large numbers in today’s elections and put their money where their mouths are.
There is no point in complaining and doing nothing about it and this is their best chance to make themselves heard.
In the past, voter turnout has been embarrassingly low in Matabeleland and yet the people claim to be the most affected by underdevelopment.
Today, Matabeleland should make itself heard, make a mark on the electoral process and turn out overwhelmingly to vote for candidates that have the region and its people at heart.
The region should not just look at what the candidate will do today, but rather vote for someone who can last the distance and who, in five years’ time, can say “this is what I did for you”.
In their vote, Matabeleland should not be swayed by populist rhetoric, but rather they should take a moment to think what is best for them and the region.
As the saying goes, “your vote is your voice”. We say to the people of the region, this is your time to be heard; shout!