Low voter turnout should be wakeup call
THE low voter turnout in yesterday’s local government polls and three byelections should serve as a wakeup call for the political class. Voters who spoke to the Sunday Express yesterday after casting their ballots spoke of a weariness with the routine of electing politicians to various positions without any discernible change in their daily lives.
Politicians, from across the political divide, need to be alarmed at the growing disenchantment voters are showing as the former fight among themselves. The reality is nobody wins if the electorate becomes disinterested in the elections.
It actually shows that no one political party or ideology is truly dominant, as voters vacillate between various parties in a bid to get the least terrible option.
Lesotho’s much vaunted electoral system is actually under threat from apathy as the numbers of voters continue to dwindle.
While some commentators can point to the limited interest in local government elections by voters and the Independent Electoral Commission’s failure to mobilise people to vote, the clear reason is that people are tired of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Renowned German-born scientist, Albert Einstein described it as insanity.
If there is anything that the body politic will need to take from these elections is that voters are more in tune with issues of service delivery than with the brinkmanship that has seen one government succeed another in two-year cycles.
Contrary to the prevailing notion that youths are apathetic about politics, they are just disillusioned and don’t see the point in voting for politicians whom they increasingly regard as corrupt and dishonest.
Evidently, there is a trust deficit that our politicians need to bridge if Lesotho’s democratic journey is to endure.
If they wish to win the trust of a large and influential chunk of our population, they need to take voters, particularly young people, seriously.
Simply holding big rallies or “street bashes” does not encourage real political engagement or support.
After the music stops playing and the influence of alcohol wanes, people are more concerned with finding leaders that address their day to day challenges.
Social media should not be underestimated as a tool for talking to young people.
Technology can link decision makers and political elites with “hard-to-reach” groups such as young people.
Politicians need to meet the electorate at their point and not to molly coddle them with superficial promises. Voters who spoke to this publication were primarily concerned with the bringing of various services and amenities such as water, electricity and good roads than they were with the congress or nationalist divide.
As for the candidates who have been granted the honour and privilege to serve their communities by the electorate, bear in mind that voters are now very fickle and will want to see more delivery and less talk.
The sooner they get to it the better.