Tag Archives: LongRead

Time to face reality.

by Prudence Muzenda | Uludağ University, Turkey
I smiled back to my mum as she waved goodbye.  “What a determined girl.” She must have said to herself.  It had became her everyday routine to stand by the gate as l walked towards the bus stop. “Don’t think too much.” She’d always say. “One day it will come through”. Smiling was like a gift that the Almighty had given me before he even knew what l was going to become. I smiled a lot despite the second world that I lived through in my head. It was only a few days after l had finished high school and my world seemed as if another. I had passed the whole lot of 6 years in someone’s care. If not the matrons’ it was my parent’s. I had  had a couple of friends who made up “the squad” and was popular in school. Life was too easy. After getting a few cerevitas and maputiprobably a  little mazoe that was it! I would spent 3 months at my second home smiling all term long. I was an A student and loved what l studied. I was the type that my mum would put in a lecture for 3 to 4 hours if l had a B in whatsoever class. I’d later cry and assure her passes the next term. Like l said before, life was very easy…
I stood by the bus stop as l waited for the kombi (commuter omnibus) that I was sure would pass in no time. It had been almost 2weeks since I had started this daily routine to the internet café. There was no Wi-Fi back home  and the Econet data services were expensive for all I wanted to research on. Frankly  I had had no whatsoever intentions to study in my country as I felt the type of area I wanted to specialise in wanted a little bit of abroad knowledge and meeting other nationalities. It was true. Since I finished my O levels I knew the commercial sector was the one. Studying economics or actuarial sciences could not escape my mind. Something close to what would help me help my own country. I was passionate about it, but my mum had made it clear that she had other kids and could not fully fund my school abroad. It was expensive. It was then that l decided to look for a scholarship or any sort of funding henceforth me waking up everyday to the internet café. I had researched enough and realized it was not easy to secure anything… But I did not give up. All I wanted was to gain knowledge abroad, relate with other nationalities  and get exposed. With this thought in mind , I never gave up. It was at this moment  that l realised life  was not what it looked like in the past six years. We used to get the pocket money, used to get majiggies, maLays and all the other sweet nothings. It all meant money. I realized  that my parents had used so much on me. How hard it was to be a parent, I thought to myself…

As you move on with life ask yourself the three questions , Who am l? Where am I going? and How do l get there?

 
Days passed and I continued with my routine but still got nothing. It was only then I decided to apply to countries that had low tuition than what l had aimed before. I would later on work there to help pay if the worst came or I would apply for scholarships when l got there l thought to myself. The idea helped, I got somewhere. “I will work for my pocket money as l wait mum.” I told her, putting up the smile that seemed to attract her so much since l had known her. She had agreed to the idea. I was excited! I had secured a place and I was going to FINALLY stop my daily routine and start a new one, look for a job. This way I could convince her l was planning for my life. Of course the routine continued, well this time with a different agenda, a job. I was going to work for 8months as I would wait for the next year to start school.. It was hard securing something but I knew it would help me in  a lot of ways. I was not a child anymore, l smiled to myself. The fact that I could make my own CV and speak to a manager professionally. I felt it. I felt all grown .
After days and days of trying, I was eventually invited to an interview by the OK supermarket in the city centre. I was excited how things were going as planned. I was going to save up all the money and get a new start abroad. I could not wait. While l celebrated my invitation another thought came to my head. I realized working as a shopkeeper would bring me to the spotlight. I mean I would have to meet everyone around, from everywhere and no soon they would spread rumours back in high school that one of the “cool squad gangers” was now working as a shopkeeper. I couldn’t face that . I mean it was too much for me. After a long linger of the thought in my mind I finally settled to what l could say then was the best. “I can’t take the job mum”. I said to her trying to put up a face that wasn’t accepting many questions. “I’m sure the other places l applied to will respond too. There’s no need to rush. I will let this one pass”. Shocked with this abrupt decision, “why would that be? Had something happened?” She asked inquisitively. Frankly speaking, nothing had happened I later on explained to her my reasons. It was then that for the first time in my life at 18 I sat with my mother and got a life lecture. All the other times had been because of the school report and others were done not exactly thorough than this had been done.
“People sleep  long and wish they could still sleep so that they see well their dreams and they do not want to wake up because they don’t want to face reality. Boldly speaking you have been leaving in a world that was not yours. All your life has had people with a great influence on it. Technically speaking you have not done anything for yourself so far. It has always been someone. You have been trapped in a bunch of high school circles that were probably not even a hint of your life circles. You have been having biology, history and geography classes but those were not life lessons. They are the theoretical aspect of life and not the realistic. You have not learnt anything if you still cant do anything because of the world and its thoughts.  You have not woken up to face reality. Life itself is not a bed of roses. You will meet people, who stay and go, but from all of them you should learn something . You’ll be accepted and in some cases and be casted in some but believe me you that is just life and what it has to offer. Some will come to waste your time and some to create everlasting memories. Not everyone will care about you but at least everyone will pretend to. You have been asking for money all the time, you have asked for school grocery top ups and so forth but now you will have to make budgets yourself and make life decisions yourself. ‘The Squad’ you want to protect will probably not be your top friends in a few years to come.  Where you go, I will not be there anymore. In some days you shall find no friend at all to talk to and in some instances everyone will go beyond your back , that’s the reality of life. You shall have sleepless nights and have a lot of undone things when the time is already past , that again is normal with life. Don’t panic! You have to start being focused and write up your dreams and achieve them. Time will not wait for you, you need to start thinking outside the box. All that any man achieves and all that any man fails to achieve is a great impact of their thoughts. Your thinking and actions will have an effect on your life. In some instances you will have to wait until you cannot wait no more. In some cases again not waiting will be worth the risk. I understand your way of thinking right now but remember the biggest room in the world is the room for change. You will fail so many times and you will quit so many times but the person you want to become does not allow the word failure. Instead she sees failure as a stepping stone. To help her improve on what she has not done well. Like l said, the ball will be on your court. To look at it ,to throw it away or to use it.. Think deeply and do not be fooled howsoever. As you move on with life ask yourself the three questions , Who am l? Where am I going? and How do l get there?.These should be the three fundamental questions to your life. Even when you get held back rise and look up to the three questions. Have a clear view of your destination. As the “I”suggests in the  three questions, its only YOU involved and no one else. Do not be fooled by the world and want to please them, it is your life. Take a lead on it!  Forget the cocoon you have grown in all these years. Think about you, your road and how you will get there. Don’t let anything stop you…”

For a moment I was stuck. I hardly moved. It was as if a thousand pieces of sharp daggers had crawled through my spine.. The talk had been real and scary. It was my time to look up to myself because no one else would. It was time to face reality!!!!!!

Originally posted on Prud’s personal blog>> https://prudmuzenda.wordpress.com
Advertisements

LIFE HACK: VOTER APATHY & WHY IT IS A PROBLEM

By Crispen Rateiwa| Nust-ZW

 So many  issues affect students, yet a few cast votes effectively surrendering power and overall decision making to a small student segment 

What are the effects of voter apathy? How does boycotting participation in student council elections affect our welfare? Why are youths taking this right to choose a representative through ballot casting for granted?  What can be done to increase the level of voter participation? The more students understand the benefits of voting in student elections, the more increase in the level of voter participation.

Colleges and universities are places were election reform and systems could be studied and tested. Each academic year student representative council (SRC) elections are held. However, there is widespread low voter turnout characteristic of the national electoral system. Voting is a duty, but people ignore this and a scant percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

The present and future generation of students should learn to value and enjoy democracy. In the first and second Chimurenga, Zimbabweans successfully fought for freedom ideals and principles. The greatest barrier to voting is the lack of patriotism in a majority of young adults. Students should revisit history and understand that in the second Chimurenga, the black majority fought for one man one vote – voting as the ability to use our voices, to make things happen.

Anyone who has interest in their welfare should care about politics. When the biggest student segment fails to take part in elections, they automatically surrender their entire academic year welfare to the student council elected by a small segment. What this means is the elected council will only serve, consult and do what pleases its voter constituency thereby sidelining issues and views relevant to the majority students. It is almost as if they don’t exist at all, as long as they don’t mobilize and force the student council to listen to them. Voter apathy affect students in all spheres of life.

Generally, only about 25% of students cast their votes in student council elections. What could be the reason? Is it issueless campaigns? Is it an insufficient electoral system? Is it because they are uninformed and uninterested? Surely, if there is no good candidate, why can not one field themselves for the posts? Many students claim that their courses do not allow much time for extra-curricular activities such as voting. When asked why they do not vote, many people report that they have too little free time. Some may argue that incumbency advantage and student representative council unresponsiveness to constituent desires is enough to deter even the most politically conscience person from voting. The right to vote is not seen as powerful, it is seen as pointless. However, students need to know that voices really can change the system.

Just like in national elections, student politics conforms to a pattern that whoever has the most money and big business support will have the best ads and with them, an improved public image. The vote is not seen as influential, as it does not translate to genuine student representation. This leads to elected student representative council unresponsiveness to constituent desires, but to their sponsors. Many voters are discouraged that their views are not represented by their elected student representatives, and consequently, that they have no real power in their student council.

“I feel politicians are fake, they claim to represent us. Actually, they represent powerful business people and politicians who sponsor their colourful public campaigns. Some get bribed when they get influential positions” said a NUST student, on condition of anonymity.

vote-initiative

What must be done?

The desire to vote is one that needs to be taught. Tertiary level students need education on political matters so that they differentiate propaganda and buzzwords and focus on reality of issues at hand when they vote. Political awareness or voter education in school need to be established in order for university and college youths to participate politically. Thus, students need the important message that their vote matters and as soon as they start to vote they are more likely to continue voting, as they grow older.

A needlessly archaic voting procedure that creates barriers to voting should be dealt with. Internet voting would increase voting by drastic standards. University students have excellent access to computers and enjoy using them. Online voting would be an excellent means by which to not only simplify the process, but increase its accessibility as well. Internet voting provides a great deal of ease for voters, allowing them to vote from the comfort of their home or even from a dorm room. Telephone voting, early voting, and absentee voting can also be considered for those who have difficulty making it to the polls. Schools, libraries, and work places all have internet access. These plausible and indispensable alternatives skyrockets voting availability. Students on attachment can also vote! Aren’t they also paying fees?

Voting can be made fun and rewarding through multimedia. Internet graphics, pictures, and sounds can attract young, first time voters in tertiary institutions. The internet has become a useful resource and (powerful) advertising tool for many political candidates. Politicians need to court virgin voters through new information technology. Advertising campaign and candidate information web sites could increase issue awareness; thereby, getting young people excited about voting.  Politicians should successfully run engaging social media handles such as facebook, twitter, youtube and Instagram.

Since all paid up university students are eligible to vote, they would be expected to vote. At university, a student identity card qualifies one to vote in student council polls. Fines should be enacted upon those who do not show up at polls on election day. After an election is held, voter checklists should be monitored for no-show voters, and these persons should be sent a notice for a fine. Should this fine not be paid within a set time limit, these non-voters would face a disciplinary hearing for a more significant punishment.

Capture2.PNG

In order to aid voters to follow through with their constitutional right, and avoid fines, universities and colleges must provide transportation to all eligible students, especially those learning in places away from the main campus to the polls at no expense. To eliminate excuses many non-voters give such as the burdensomeness to travel to polls, transportations is necessary.

To increase voter turnout there is need to eliminate wasted votes. In order to assure the electorate that their vote counts, the electoral system should allow vote casting according to the voter preferences. The voter will mark against his or her best five candidates in order of the first choice to the last fifth choice. This system more accurately targets the student’s choice for the student council. Instead of voting for just one candidate, a voter would rank them in preference. Therefore, if a voter’s first choice for office has no chance of attaining a majority of the vote, the voter’s second choice would receive the vote. This style of voting system would especially attract young voters, giving them reassurance that their vote will not be wasted if they don’t initially vote with a mainstream political candidate or party. This ensures limited cases of vote boycotts as the outcome remains unpredictable.

Proportional representation makes elections more exciting to the electorate because their voice and vote will make a difference. For example, a 50/ 50 gender representation in student elections encourages both men and women to vote; everyone would be fairly represented according to his or her vote. A system of unequal representation has mainly sidelined women.

Political conscience is important and institutions should provide credible platforms that allows issue-based campaigns and ideology based campaigns to take center stage during election period so that the electorate make informed decisions in the ballot box. There is need to aim for 100 percent voter turnout to avoid situations where politicians generate benefits for those who vote, and mostly ignore those who don’t. Strong media coverage and public debate provide the best means to distinguish between candidates. Both campus print and broadcasting media should contribute free airtime to every student political candidate.

Conclusion

The more the rise in voter turnouts and youth participation in student representative council (SRC) elections, the more representative the council is of the people.  So many political, academic, social, economic and technological issues affect students, yet a few cast votes thereby surrendering power and overall decision making to a small student segment throughout the academic year.

If only the middle – and upper- income students turn out at the polls, student politicians can concentrate on the issues pertaining to that group of people. Lower – income and working- class student views will be trashed. Implementation of programs such as internet voting, better voter education, and an election day holiday are necessary to fight voter apathy. Other notable point, although debatable is making voting compulsory, which has a direct and dramatic effect on turnout. Last but not least, there should be more secure polling stations.

Crispen Rateiwa is the chairperson of College Youth Art Club and president of Democratic Alliance for Academic (DAA). He is a publishing studies student at National University of Science and Technology. You can contact him on crisrateiwa@gmail.com. This article only focuses on student elections in tertiary institutions. You can read more articles by him on ayaasite.wordpress.com