AS political campaigns continue towards the election date of 28th October, this year, one would realise the voters’ knowledge has considerably improved in comparison to the past elections.
No wonder, we hear and see them asking candidates, who are aspiring to be voted as Councillors, Legislators and even as the President genuine, prompt and sometimes difficult questions. There is no question that this time voters deserve to be called rational players especially in the forthcoming 2020 general elections.
On the other hand, I hear some candidates are already worried and nervous. Because they know what it means when voters openly express their sentiments. They are disturbed because they know voters would want to know, what they would provide/implement in their party policies if elected to the posts.
For them 2020 general elections might turn out to be a shocking election ever. Gladly enough, some candidates are alert, open eyed and confident. They know what they achieved in the past and what they would want to see accomplished in the next five years.
For them, a battle of parties, issues, and morals which provokes argument among the general public voters, over which candidates should be supported in the election, is not at all a problem. Their confidence keeps them going. Who knows, this election might be a joyful experience for them than any other election.
Let us wait and see. Let me unfold the scenario. I begin by reiterating that more than ever before, what we see and hear at most of the ongoing campaign rallies represents a tremendous change in the trajectory of voters’ political knowledge.
And when writing about voters, I consider diverse voters’ backgrounds, gender, status and identity. Whether one is a female or male voter, first time voters or those who had voted at least twice or more in their lives; or low income voters who are, in colloquial language “struggling to earn a living”, all have some knowledge on what they want.
My point is voters of today are not naïve, hence, candidates should watch-out. I am also aware of other voters too. For example, those I call emotional voters who would always say they would vote for the same party even if that party had no chance of winning the elections.
Likewise, I know voters who I would regard rational, those who would not vote for the same party if that party had no chance of winning the elections. All these voters have clear political interest, knowledge and awareness. They are more sensitive, consistent and informed.
We should not ignore this and other factors which influences voters’ behavior and candidates’ success. Unlike in the past we should consistently and accurately identify this reality and thereafter cherish what I call improved voters’ political knowledge. I like voters’ questions.
From these questions to can didates, show, as I highlighted, that voters today are, by and large, politically knowledgeable, interested, trusting, and are aware that through 2020 election, they are affected.
But the question stands; what exactly has made voters so confident to the extent, as it has happened, of chasing away candidates, who in their views have done nothing during their tenure as legislators?
Well, voters’ knowledge regarding political actors, the people they know, members of parliament who worked with them since the last elections back in 2015 is what has helped them to learn the level and standard of their candidates’ performance. So they will make a voting decision based on the effectiveness of their leader.
They are not childlike. They will analyse the content and quality of, among other things, candidates’ promise to implement the policy that could maximize their chances of winning the election as well as the future of voters.
With this increased knowledge, I do not see, like in the past, any possible increase on rates of blank and spoiled balloting, for in my view, the basic criteria for the success of the electoral candidates will depend on what they did in the past. This will be their influence on voters’ selection decision.
In my view voters of today will select the candidate they evaluate most positively, not only on the basis of personal attributes but candidates’ credibility and commitment to wananchi. As the campaign continues, let us expect more voters’ questions.
They know well the basic and most successful components that the electoral candidate should have, not only to succeed in the election, but more specifically for their wellbeing. Peoples’ flourishing agenda is what will influence the decision of the voters in selecting the electoral candidate.
I think candidates should know that there will be no guarantee that voters will use their votes in line with their extreme political and ideological views of their parties. What we already hear, some voters are already saying they would not support the candidate or the party that has no chance of winning in the elections.
This is true and fine because even though some voters may not care about the vote they will be using, experienced voters will have different political experiences, meaning their emotional status will differ as well. So candidates should seek to understand the factors that influence the political choices of their voters and the extent of their influence.
Things can not remain the same for elections are an important institution in the life of a democratic country. From a clear change in the trajectory of what voters and citizens want and expects, we should expect voters and citizens at large to shape and evaluate their judgments and beliefs towards candidates, parties, and issues.
My message today is, let us cherish improved voters’ political knowledge. It speaks a lot about Tanzania’s 2020 elections. Let us remember that voters vote for the candidate who will implement their preferred policy.
To avoid past mistakes, a time when voters did not vote leading to ignoring history and giving away the future, this time they will make decisive choices. I see them wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders. They will not either take away the freedom of other people.
Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s University of Tanzania Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, email@example.com Mobile: 0767 233 997