Election watchdogs call for peace 

Source: Election watchdogs call for peace – NewsDay Zimbabwe

ELECTION watchdogs have urged political parties to refrain from acts of violence ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Political tension has heightened during the past few months following some by-elections which the ruling Zanu PF party largely lost to the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). The murder of a CCC activist Moreblessing Ali last month also triggered violence pitting CCC and Zanu PF supporters in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza.

Following the Chitungwiza violence Zanu PF deputy youth secretary John Paradza declared that he had “unleashed” his “dogs” to defend the ruling party from the CCC, while President Emmerson Mnangagwa also warned CCC against stage-managing acts of political violence countrywide to stall Zimbabwe’s readmission into the Commonwealth.

But observers said credible elections hinged on an environment free of violence.

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said: “Electoral stakeholders established to ensure peace and a free and fair electoral environment including the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must take a proactive approach in responding to the declining political situation.

“Political parties must be reminded of their commitment to peace ahead of elections, while Zec must use the Multi-Party Liaison Committees as vessels to address political parties’ concerns around politically motivated violence.”

Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) chairperson Andrew Makoni demanded that police should investigate Paradza’s utterances and implored political leaders to restrain their members.

“ZESN condemns in the strongest terms the statement attributed to the Zanu (PF) youth Secretary Paradza. The police must without fear or favour move in quickly to investigate the matter and bring the person who made the inflammatory threats to book. A senior CCC member is in court for allegedly making similar comments and if the playing field is even the same fate must meet John Paradza,” Makoni said.

CCC deputy chairperson Job Sikhala and Chitungwiza North legislator Godfrey Sithole were arrested two weeks ago and charged with incitement to commit public violence.

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust representative Ignatious Sadziwa said such incidences were the main reason why they are calling for electoral reforms in Zimbabwe.

“Zec must be armed with powers to disqualify political parties that entrench and engage in electoral violence. As a lawmaker, Paradza must know that his utterances are toxic and criminal,” Sadziwa said.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in February this year said Zanu PF would crush CCC like lice.