Dr Given Mutinta
One temptation we face as voters is to think that our votes as individuals do not matter.
This is a flawed belief because your vote matters.
Remember that voting is democracy, and there is nowhere there is a well-run democratic system without the support and vote of a citizen.
This explains why a complete meaning of a democracy has voting in it.
A democracy is a government in which the highest power is bestowed in people and put into effect through a system in which people vote for a representative regularly through free and fair elections.
This is what makes it gullible to think that your vote on which elections and democracy hang on does not matter.
Your vote matters immensely whether or not you or I vote on 11th August.
You may have a thousand reasons you will not vote. You may argue that politicians are rapscallion hypocrites who make promises and once elected never even intend to fulfil their promises.
You may even tell yourself that your vote does not matter because the electoral system is corrupt or politicians are all the same.
Certainly, this tainted reputation of politicians is not made out of thin air. It is sad, that politicians work hard for such tarnished reputations by lying and u-turning on their election promises.
It is therefore justifiable for a voter to become cynical and apathetic to voting, and many voters feel exactly that, and this feeling is normal.
However, not all politicians are purely wicked, and those that are not deserve your vote in August.
But then there is something larger at stake in our choice about whether to vote or not vote.
Our democracy is built on the principle of free and fair elections in which eligible citizens should vote.
For this reason, voting is our right and responsibility therefore we are expected to protect the electoral process. Sadly, this cannot be a reality if you and I withdraw our participation.
As messy as the management of the electoral process is this year, your participation is needed.
If you decide that your vote does not matter, no matter how justified one may feel for not voting, you are unconsciously feeding yourself with noxious ideas that you do not matter.
I can assure you, there is no person who has excelled in life who held a self-limiting belief that “I do not matter.”
Feeding on the “I do not matter” principle unconsciously blocks our access to living satisfying life we all want in this country.
Most of us are unaware that we hold self-restricting beliefs. However, the marks of these beliefs are left all over our lives for other people to see.
When we believe that we do not matter, we truly become people who do not matter.
By believing that we do not matter, we cancel our own precious vote in a numerous ways unaware that it is this same vote that can bring about the ultimate quality of life we all need in this country if we voted for a good leader.
Imagine you are in a relationship, and relationships are the living workrooms within which our unconscious beliefs are played out.
In your relationship you happen to be disappointed or feel betrayed. You have your heart broken, your hopes and dreams dashed.
This may happen because you are misunderstood or judged unfairly.
I am convinced that it is a common experience in the human journey that somewhere between birth and death we feel disappointed or betrayed.
I have never met a person who, if they were honest with themselves, can say that I have never felt some version of this scenario of feeling disappointed or betrayed.
What I am saying is that, it is not the disappointment or betrayal that matters, it is what we do with this situation that really counts.
If in the face of disappointment or betrayal you or I decide to give up, then our authentic self will give up as well because as human beings we become stifled under cynicism, indifference and resignation.
Therefore, before you decide that your vote does not matter, chew over this simple question:
Where else in your life did you abandon the playground because you did not like or agree with the way the game was played?
You might be correct in your assumption that not voting is a way of registering your dissatisfaction for the corrupt electoral process or candidates.
I am not claiming that the current electoral process is without serious problems. There is no doubt that the current electoral system needs a complete reform.
Even then, you still have your one vote, and if you do not exercise it you will be giving up your right to have a say on national matters.
To me, this is the premise upon which this country was founded.
Many people sacrificed their lives so that we could have that right to vote for our leaders.
If you think your vote does not matter, consider what the outcome would have been if Frederick Chiluba and his equals felt that way. We would still be a one party State under the Kaunda dynasty.
What is the difference between those who fought for our democracy and you or me? Absolutely nothing, except that these people chose to matter! They did not go to someone to ask permission to matter. They chose to do so in the face of difficult circumstances such as what we are facing under President Edgar Lungu’s violent and despotic leadership.
As you ruminate whether to vote or not next month, ask yourself if you matter, and ask if your one vote and one life matters. Be honest!
If after careful reflection, you still choose not to vote, your decision may seem like a good choice in the short term, but in the long run, it will be lethal to your future.
You have a choice about whether or not to exercise your right to vote. Either way, it matters.
There is no good enough person in this country, either Lungu or Hakainde or Nawakwi you should allow to govern you without your consent.
If you cannot vote, then all your rights are meaningless. And an eligible voter who decides not to vote should not grumble about socio-economic hardships caused by poor leadership because that is what you deserve.
Your vote is your voice at any level of government and the act of standing up for what you believe and deserve as a citizen.
If you do not vote, how are you going to eliminate the threat of a tyrannical regime, how are you going to remove the danger of a violent regime, how are you going to get rid of the peril of a visionless leader, how are you going to shape public policy to bring socio-economic development to all Zambians?
On 11th August, show your commitment and care about Zambia by casting your vote.
It is through voting that we can have a new set of people representing us with fresh ideas to help fix the damage that their predecessors have done.
Voter apathy cannot bring about the economic change desired in this country but will only worsen the situation.
Laziness to vote and make your vote count will lead this country in a perilous situation of being stuck with incompetent, irresponsible, corrupt, and visionless leaders.
If you will not vote, you will make a clear way for irresponsible leaders and give away your right to influence the affirmative course of the future of Zambia.
Take time to scrutinise political parties’ agendas, assess their leaders’ ideas, integrity, abilities, personal records, and their socio-economic plans, and vote wisely.