The chairman of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) veterans Lazarus Ray Ncube says his organisation is working hard to engage their membership to ensure violence-free polls in future after realising that war veterans play a critical role in politically-motivated violence.
In an interview with NewsDay on Sunday, Ncube said his organisation had been forced to take up the responsibility of ensuring violence-free polls after being challenged by villagers in several communities they visited to consult their membership on their welfare.
“In 2008, there were elections that were characterised by violence and most of the violence was perpetrated by war veterans. The reality of this hit us when we tried to engage the war veterans on what could be the way forward to improve their welfare.
“In that process we met civilians and villagers who asked us why we were looking at the welfare of war veterans and not addressing the violence perpetrated by the same veterans.
“We realised then that this was a priority to us because our name was tainted and we had lost dignity. Communities held us responsible for the violence,” he said.
Zimbabwean elections have since 2000 been marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging. They have, as a result, always been contested and inconclusive.
The 2008 June presidential election rerun was riddled with violence leading to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulling out of the election, leaving President Robert Mugabe to run alone.
President Mugabe declared himself winner but suffered legitimacy problems which forced him into a government of national unity with Tsvangirai and former MDC-M.