The Common Good

Holding Government Accountable on Poverty -- in Africa

The South African elections have eclipsed all news in our region. These went fairly smoothly with isolated incidents. The drawcard used by ANC was service delivery and alleviation of poverty, an indication of the key issues at stake in the election.

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It is clear that the immense gap between the rich and poor is no longer tenable or sustainable. The poor have spoken and will be holding the government accountable for delivery of basic services such as sanitation, housing, health, and employment. Democracy and freedom are sustained by ensuring that the fruits of democracy namely the fulfillment of basic rights to life, shelter, education, health and employment are met. There seems to be a renewed resolve to address these issues as politicians realize their survival is at stake. The performance of government will be closely monitored by its citizens.

As a neighbor witnessing the election process, Zimbabwe has once again been reminded of the purpose of elections and the need to allow citizens the freedom and right to think for themselves and make their own decisions on who they want in government. Later on this year, Zimbabwe will have yet another occasion to re-learn about elections and democracy when Botswana, another neighbor, holds its elections.

Sadly the legacy of autocratic rule and lack of accountability to citizens and freedom of citizens continues to plague Zimbabwe. Our prayers and hopes are that despite consistent challenges threatening its survival, the unity government will slowly reverse this legacy. A daunting task, but as an African proverb reminds us, small steps matter and 'you eat an elephant one bite at a time!' Please continue praying for Zimbabwe.

Nontando HadebeNontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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