Zec boss raps war veterans

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Retired Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe yesterday said there would be no room for violence in forthcoming elections that President Robert Mugabe wants held this year.

In apparent reference to the 2008 political violence blamed on Zanu PF militants campaigning for Mugabe ahead of the ill-fated June 27 presidential runoff poll, the Zec boss said the countrys liberators must accept peaceful transfer of power.

He was speaking at a Churches and Civil Society Forum bi-annual leadership conference held in Bulawayo.

Political violence is often associated with ex-combatants and war veterans yet we forget that all those who were involved in the liberation struggle were taught that power comes from the barrel of the gun but now we have to start re-educating them to say transfer of power need not be done violently, Mutambanengwe said.

These people need to be questioned whether they are abiding by the principles that made them fight during the liberation struggle to free Zimbabwe.

It is a hard lesson to teach but after the realisation that transfer of power has continuously been done through forceful and violent means, it becomes our obligation to re-educate these people, the former judge added.

Since 2000, war veterans have been accused of spearheading violent Zanu PF election campaigns. The former fighters allegedly set up bases where they tortured opposition supporters and in some cases killed their opponents.

National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration co-minister Sekai Holland (MDC-T) said election violence had become a culture in Zimbabwe.

Power transfer has been done violently and now people need to be retaught and change the style of succession, she said.

Although change of leadership structures has come with development and civilisation, the methods of acquiring power have been infested with violence and this must stop, she said.
Her counterpart Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC) said there was need for a culture of tolerance in the country.

If tolerance and non-violence were existent since the time we attained independence, we could not have seen the massacres that happened immediately after independence and we could not have seen even these other killings that followed, he said.

Last week, Parliament adopted a motion on the need for a mechanism for peaceful transition of power in the post-election period.

The MPs called on Zimbabwe to emulate peaceful transitions that took place in Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Senegal recently.

This followed threats by army generals that they would not allow anyone without liberation war credential to lead the country.

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