BY BLESSING MASHAYA

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) has once again warned that authorities will crack down mercilessly on all perpetrators of violence and chaos ahead of the country’s impending elections.

Speaking in Harare yesterday at the burial of the amiable late former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, at the National Heroes Acre, Mnangagwa said the government would not tolerate the country’s polls being sullied by violence.

“Our culture of non-violence and peace, along with our values of unity, love and respect must continue to be the fundamental building blocks that distinguish us as a people and as a nation.

“This is more important as the nation prepares itself for the democratic national electoral processes in 2022 and 2023.

“Those who had the privilege to know … Moyo will attest to the fact that he did not delight in evil, but rejoiced in the truth,” Mnangagwa said as he sang the praises of the late hero.

“He always hoped and always persevered. In his honour, let us as a nation, across all provinces, rise beyond misplaced perceptions of differences and divisions.

“We are diverse, but one people. Let us unite as labourers and servants of our great country to build the Zimbabwe we all want, brick by brick, stone upon stone,” he added.

Mnangagwa spoke amid growing concerns over rising reports of both intra- and inter-party violence in the country.

This has prompted political analysts and representatives of political parties to emphasise the importance for all stakeholders to continue preaching the message of peace and unity to avoid bloodshed at all costs in 2023.

Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday, at the weekend that the onus was especially on political leaders to work to avoid violence ahead of, during and after the polls.

“While we witnessed violence in the 2008 elections, there was very little of it if any in 2018 … because the new Zanu PF leader (Mnangagwa) has largely been preaching peace.

“The same applies with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. So, it is largely about what the political gladiators do and say.

“Of course, there is likely to be violence in 2023, but … that would be a result of malcontents within various organisations defying their principals.

“If their principals do not continue to preach peace, then we could indeed experience worse violence in 2023,” Masunungure said.

He added that it was crucial that the country held the much-needed national dialogue to avoid violence in two year’s time.

“If stakeholders including politicians, the church, students, labour and others were to sit down and agree on what they expect, then they will be able to influence the people they lead on the importance of peaceful co-existence.

“At the end of the day it is also about what the clerics preach to their congregants about the need for peace and also what the other community leaders say to those they lead.

“So, dialogue will be important ahead of 2023,” Masunungure further told the Daily News On Sunday.

A fellow academic, Ricky Mukonza, said the intra-party violence which was witnessed in Kwekwe among Zanu PF supporters recently  could be a harbinger of worse things to come in 2023.

“We are likely to see an increase in the scale of violence as we approach the 2023 elections.

“People must remember that those who were architects of the violence that we witnessed post 2000 and especially in 2008 are now in charge of the State apparatus.

“They will not hesitate to employ violence in settling political scores,” he told the Daily News On Sunday — adding that Zanu PF was disinterested in political dialogue “because it does not want to dilute its power”.

“I do not foresee dialogue helping in this case because Zanu PF will not be willing to enter into a process that will dilute their power.

“They are also unlikely to engage in a process that will discourage them from using some of the tactics that have kept them in power thus far —  violence and vote rigging.

“So, it’s most unlikely that we will see dialogue before the 2023 elections,” the Tshwane University lecturer also said.

All this comes as Zanu PF bigwigs are sweating over the rising cases of violence within its ranks, with the mayhem in Kwekwe said to have further inflamed the already tense situation in the former liberation movement.

Speaking to Daily News last week, Zanu PF secretary for security, Lovemore Matuke, expressed grave concerns about the actions of “some malcontents” who were sowing seeds of anarchy within the party during its current internal elections.

“Divisions and unnecessary fights have no room in Zanu PF. These are internal elections and they must not divide us. Peace and unity are key for economic development.

“Like what the president (Mnangagwa) has said, violence is not part of Zanu PF culture as we are a peaceful party.

“Every party member must follow what the president said because he is our leader. We must remain united ahead of the 2023 elections.

“In that regard, our department will not hesitate to deal with people who are violent,” Matuke told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa also challenged the media yesterday to follow Khaya Moyo’s footsteps.

“Through a robust and effective media and communication strategy, Cde SK enhanced our engagement and re-engagement policy, as well as the mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.

“I challenge players in the media and communication sector to carry on with the good work of advancing the national interest, as was articulated by our late national hero.

“In the late Cde SK, we have lost a true patriot, an astute and rare breed of spokesman and Pan-African voice.

“Zimbabwe inspires as a nation to pursue our national Vision 2030 towards transforming and growing our economy to sustain and better the lives of all our people,” Mnangagwa also said.

“The onus is indeed upon us who remain to stay the course of our development agenda and strategy.

“Let us continue to rally all our energies, skills sets, competencies, capabilities and positive action to build our country, brick by brick, stone upon stone.

“As Zimbabweans, we are a great and hardworking people. We are fearless and brave warriors who never give up until victory is attained,” he added.

Moyo died in Bulawayo on November 14 after a long illness.

SK, as Khaya Moyo was affectionately referred to by many people, was 76, and was known to have been battling with cancer for many years. – Daily News