HARARE – The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) must be commended for launching the Election Peace Pledge to ensure that peace and tranquillity prevail during the forthcoming harmonised elections.
The initiative is crucial to the holding of peaceful elections since past polls have been marred by violence and intimidation.
It is thus imperative that all those who appended their signatures to the Election Peace Pledge should adhere to the rules of the game and desist from violence. The signing of the pledge by political parties ahead of the July 30 polls does justice to NPRC’s duties as enunciated in the Constitution in terms of promoting peace, national healing and reconciliation in the country.
We urge NPRC to work together with stakeholders in monitoring the political environment so as to guard against intimidation of citizens and observers, which used to happen in previous elections. NPRC should also establish strong early warning and early response systems, involving stakeholders such as civil society, police, political parties, other constitutional commissions and the media to pre-emptively stamp out any threats to peace.
It is encouraging that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also designated trial magistrates for politically-motivated violence and intimidation cases ahead of the election. We hope the JSC’s initiative will also help reduce cases of political violence, which in the past has been fuelled by a culture of impunity especially within local communities.
We also agree with the election watchdogs calling for the strengthening of the multi-party liaison committees from ward, district to the national level. Multi-party liaison committees are key in the holding of peaceful elections as they serve as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism among political contestants.
It is important, however, for political leaders to cascade down to their followers the importance of respecting the goals and aims of the Election Peace Pledge and political parties’ adherence to Political Parties Code of Conduct. Political actors should desist from acts of intimidation, physical violence or politically motivated discrimination in welfare programmes during and after the elections.
Equally, for the peace pledge to be sustainable and successful, political leaders must avoid hate speech during the electoral campaigns.
As we approach election day, we call upon everyone in the country to ensure that sustainable peace and tranquillity prevail during the electoral campaign season and after the harmonised elections, as this is crucial for the country’s turnaround. Political violence or any acts that may endanger people’s lives is an abhorrent culture, which must not be tolerated and the police must arrest any perpetrators.
We hope Zimbabweans are now mature and that political contestations and disagreements in the country will remain civil and peaceful, and within the bounds of the Constitution.