By BRIGHTON MURONZEREYI
ZIMBABWEAN authorities will crack down without mercy on all perpetrators of political violence ahead of the crunch 2023 harmonised elections, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe has warned.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday — after police confirmed that they were probing reported clashes between Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters in Matobo, Matabeleland South, last weekend — Kazembe also pooh-poohed claims that police were carrying out their duties in a partisan way.
“Police are ready to deal with all cases of political violence. People are therefore warned to desist from political violence. President Mnangagwa is on record calling for peaceful and violence-free elections.
“He has been urging all political parties and Zimbabweans in general to maintain peace and tranquillity as we go towards the 2023 general elections.
“We reiterate that appeal and ask our people to heed the president’s call. The police will account for all who break the law without fear or favour,” Kazembe said.
“Police are always receiving training on various aspects of law enforcement, including dealing with public disorder, and they are ready and capable of dealing with political violence.
“Awareness against political violence is also ongoing and shall be intensified,” he further told the Daily News.
Kazembe went on to pour cold water on claims that police were carrying out their duties in a partisan manner.
“The problem is there are some who want to mislead the people by rushing to social media and playing victim, yet in some cases they are the ones perpetrating violence.
“Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for peace lovers, police deal with facts on the ground and enforce the law accordingly, without any favour and regardless of the impression given in any form of media.
“We, therefore, just urge our peace-loving people to desist from violence. Nyika haivakwe nekurwa (the country cannot be built on violence),” Kazembe said.
The stern warning came as Zanu PF and CCC have been trading accusations over political violence witnessed ahead of this coming weekend’s council by-elections in Matobo District.
Addressing a press conference in Harare earlier this week, CCC national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said political violence was getting out of hand.
She also added that the current environment was not conducive for free and fair elections.
On his part, Zanu PF director of Information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, accused CCC of desperately trying to attract political limelight through false claims of violence.
And as national consensus grows on the importance of peaceful elections next year, the government has also said that it is ramping up its own efforts to ensure that Zimbabweans remain united.
Speaking in the Senate last week, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said authorities had embarked on a number of programmes in this regard, to engender a peaceful environment in the country.
This came as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the country’s two main opposition leaders — Nelson Chamisa and Douglas Mwonzora — have increasingly been singing from the same hymn sheet on the importance of peace ahead of the 2023 elections.
Mutsvangwa said some of the initiatives being undertaken by authorities included involving the media in initiatives to boost national unity in the run up to the fast-approaching polls, while police were going through training to help them deal with chaos mongers.
“We are a very peaceful nation. We are known for being peaceful and we urge people to continue being peaceful.
“We do not want violence. Elections are something that we agreed on as a nation. They must not bring violence because when there is unity the nation will have economic development.
“Our police will continue training so that they can apprehend culprits who … should be prosecuted to stop violence,” Mutsvangwa said.
She also told the Senate that authorities were doing all they could to ensure that next year’s elections would be credible and controversy-free.
“I just want to say after the 2018 elections, various observer missions … made recommendations. There has been an inter-ministerial committee which has been looking at all those recommendations.
“There has been training of the media, training of our journalists on how to report during elections. Zec (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) themselves have a lot which they are doing to just make sure that our elections will flow smoothly.
“There has been a lot which has been done to make sure that we go through all those specific recommendations,” Mutsvangwa said further.
In the meantime, Mnangagwa, Chamisa and Mwonzora are increasingly singing from the same hymn sheet on the importance of peace ahead of next year’s elections.
Speaking in Harare earlier this month, at the burial of the late Highten Nkomo at the National Heroes Acre, Mnangagwa said the government’s efforts to lift Zimbabwe’s economy could only bear fruit if there was peace and tranquillity in the country.
This came as Chamisa deployed his lieutenants to engage rural residents on the importance of peace ahead of the crunch 2023 elections.
It also came after church leaders under the banner of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) recently implored political parties to sign a peace covenant to help end the country’s history of violence associated with major elections.
“Let us all take a collective responsibility to ensure that we remain a peaceful and secure nation.
“As our harmonised general elections beckon, we must honour those that sacrificed for our freedom by saying no to violence and no to undue foreign interference in our internal affairs.
“It is none but ourselves who have the responsibility to build a prosperous and peaceful Zimbabwe. The unity that we enjoy in Zimbabwe today has its foundations in our collective struggle for freedom.
“Unity must, therefore, remain the unshakeable foundation upon which we must realise national prosperity, and Vision 2030. United we stand, divided we fall,” Mnangagwa said then.
Amid this growing national consensus on the importance of peaceful elections next year, civil society organisation 4H Zimbabwe has said that it is working with all the young people across the political divide in its peace programmes to avoid violence.
Speaking recently on fast-growing independent national commercial television station 3Ktv’s popular current affairs programme, Vantage, 4H executive director John Muchenje, said youth were also critical of “political god fathers” with an affinity for violence.
“You know, the problem with some of the young people is that they are controlled by certain god fathers in politics. All political parties have their own godfathers whom they report to.
“When we started our peace programme, I think we took about six months to start the project. There were a series of meetings and engagements … with some young people wanting to go and make reference to someone.
“But we were saying these were programmes that we were bringing to them about peace and tolerance in our country,” Muchenje said then. – Daily News