Cleaning up after elections: Who’s responsible?

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Hilda Muchamiri
It is often quipped “politics is a dirty game”, but that is ever so true after the messy campaigns of election silly seasons.

Zimbabwe held its harmonised elections on July 30, 2018 and as would be expected there was massive campaigning from almost all political parties.

Our elections have never really focused on environmental issues as a key electoral issue, but the issue of the environment post-elections is something that cannot be ignored.

Different parties were campaigning using various ways. For instance, most political parties held rallies, while others moved around visiting churches to solicit for votes. In other cases, some were even making “donations” of basic household commodities and goodies to carry favour with the electorate whilst others were moving door-to- door.

There was a field-day on social media platforms, for example, when one of the major candidates for the presidential race went people-to-people speaking to voters with the joke being he could knock on your bedroom door in the dead of the night to have an intimate conversation with you about voting for him.

Elsewhere, some were using print, electronic, and social media while others chose to speak to the people using posters and billboards just to mention a few.

There was a campaign frenzy.

But after all the madness of electoral silly season has passed, one problem continues to rear its ugly head dead in front of our faces.

There still are campaign material, particularly posters, which remain plastered all over.

The million-dollar question is: Are the posters still serving their purpose now that we are almost a month after the elections?

Do these politicians care for our environment or they just care about winning votes? Those posters have served their purpose and are now becoming an eye sore.

Who shall shoulder the cost of removing these posters long after the politicians have run off celebrating a win or drowning in their tears after losing the plebiscite?

Politicians must be friendly to the environment and have ‘green policies’ when campaigning.

Just imagine if politicians fail to be friendly to the environment will they be friendly to their people in their respective constituencies?

These little responsibilities matter most before the mammoth task of leading people.

Imagine posters for different political parties represented 23 presidential candidates, a vast number of Member of Parliament contenders, a myriad council aspirants all plastered on one wall or urban building.

Politicians need to do something urgently, now that the elections are over and spruce up the city and indeed others towns and cities around the country. It does not matter whether you won the election or not; just be responsible and be a good citizen who cares for their environment.

The campaign posters are defacing walls and buildings and some private properties, which does not bode well for environmental awareness and the quest to leave a small carbon footprint.

One house along Samora Machel Avenue’s security wall has had some political graffiti for some time. The security wall is awfully defaced. It has now been repainted but at whose bill and expense?

It is really painful on the private pocket and political parties must take responsibility. The local authorities and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) must put measures and controls in place as well as enforce existing laws to ensure that the environment is kept clean, perhaps imposing stiff penalties for those politicians found wanting.

The rainy season is now near and if the political campaign posters are not removed this will have an impact on the environment in that the rain will pull down some of the posters and they will end up clogging the drainage system thereby causing an additional health hazard.

Political parties must now take up clean-up campaigns after elections or engage local authorities. Political parties are supposed to pay a certain fee to the council to get permission regarding putting up those posters but according to the Harare city spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme, political parties did not pay that required fee, so council is encouraging political parties to remove those posters.

The local council in Harare for example has started engaging political parties regarding that issue.

It’s not rocket science, the political parties must play ball and clean up after their success or loss…whatever the case may be!

Two independent candidates in Harare constituencies on their Facebook accounts yesterday said they had removed all campaign posters.

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