The NRM political machine and its Electoral Commission are afflicted by the condition of the mule: obstinacy. And they live by this strong-headedness because they despise the citizens. They know that the citizens can do ‘nothing’. When treated like rubbish, the citizens did ‘nothing’. Even today, the citizens do ‘nothing’. Surely, tomorrow, the citizens will do ‘nothing’.
Take this farce about not entering into the voters’ register the people now turning 18, which could leave more than one million young people disenfranchised. Why is it even an issue at all in the 21 Century? It is an issue because the Electoral Commission and its puppet masters work on the premise that all the citizens are stupid, incapable of doing anything that worries the ruling clique.
Even if the ladies and gentlemen at the Commission suspended their very substantial academic qualifications and relied on primary school mathematics and common sense, they would have worked it out long ago, that a person who turns 17 in February 2020 will turn 18 in February 2021. The same person turned 16 in 2019 – even if the commissioners did not attend the birthday parties.
When you are driving a car, you do not have to lean over and look at the wheels to know that the car is not stationary.
From time to time, a high-ranking White person carelessly drops an uncharitable remark about African brains, and we, the Africans, go up in arms. We are masters at taking offence. But our leaders sometimes tempt us to question whether the African is fully endowed for the purpose of reasoning.
In a country where both school-going and non-school-going teenagers are entitled to a national identity card, politicians, legislators, Budget technocrats and the Electoral Commission had all the data sources they needed – and the time – to predict who would be eligible in February 2021.
Time and other resources are now being wasted on this issue because our Africans are either daft or patently dishonest.
I have finished quarrelling.
Now, are you turning 18 before February 2021? Do you fear you will not be registered to vote until 2026?
Expressed another way, has the State in effect rendered you a non-person until 2026?
Perhaps you have no interest in politics. Or, more accurately, perhaps you do not yet understand the complex ways in which your life and your wellbeing are affected by the way your country is governed. If so, perhaps you did not even intend to vote. That is all right. You have the right not to vote. And the obstinacy of the Electoral Commission should not bother you much.
However, you may be the more conscious type. Because you are more knowledgeable, the blatant injustice of denying you the vote may fill you with anger.
Calm down. Do not despair. You must refuse to despair. And do not boil into rage and violence; starting Bush Wars and such primitive things.
Think ‘smart’; you are a 21 Century kid. Make the art of persuasion your forte. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistan prophetess of knowledge, and Greta Thunberg, the Nordic weather goddess, were mortals. And they are harvesting grown-up men and women. You, too, can seize your century and emulate them for your cause. Kind of!
Set yourself a manageable task: To compensate for your denied vote, the conversion of at least two registered voters who currently do not share your conviction.
Whether you want change, or pray that NRM fascism is preserved; whichever your side, hunt for at least two people who do not think like you now. Preach to them and convert them.
If you want to be paid for that effort, you risk becoming a political prostitute. If you do it out of conviction, you are a new patriot. And you have eleven months to tap into that pool of the people’s power.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.