BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF youths have come under fire for threatening violence ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections, with the civic society and opposition saying they should be arrested for inciting terror.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Heal Zimbabwe in separate statements called for action on the ruling party youths who on Tuesday marched in central Harare and threatened to unleash violence on opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and his supporters.
“The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition notes with concern threats of violence against opposition supporters which were issued by Zanu PF supporters during the unveiling of a statue for the long-gone heroine, Mbuya Nehanda on May 25, 2021,” the coalition’s spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said.
What was supposed to be a national occasion was turned into a Zanu PF event, with the ruling party supporters affirming their support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa while threatening to unleash violence on opposition supporters ahead of the 2023 elections.
Video clips of the Zanu PF supporters denouncing the opposition have since gone viral.
“The threats from the Zanu PF supporters raise fears of yet another bloody election, come 2023,” Khumalo said.
“Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition implores the ruling party, Zanu PF, particularly its leadership to rein in their supporters and condemn all forms of violence.”
The threats come as government has reintroduced the dreaded national youth service, better known as Border Gezi, who instilled fear in opposition supporters before they were banned.
Heal Zimbabwe said: “This is disturbing. Zanu PF political tolerance is key ahead of the 2023 elections. The use of denigrating slogans has the potential of inciting political violence ahead of the 2023 elections.”
Scores of people denounced the rogue youths’ conduct in comments posted on NewsDay’s microblogging site Twitter and called for police to arrest them.
Civic organisations have already warned that the 2023 general elections would be violent. Police have requested resources to allow them to manage the 2023 polls, also predicting a bloody plebiscite.
Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, Zimbabwe has witnessed successive violent polls. In 2008, over 300 people were maimed or killed, according to human rights lobby groups, with thousands displaced as the late former President Robert Mugabe battled to overturn a first round poll defeat to the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The presidential runoff, in which Mugabe was the sole candidate after Tsvangirai’s withdrawal, courted controversy, forcing the then President into a government of national unity with the two MDC formations that ran from 2009 to 2013.