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Povo has right to peaceful polls

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Their views may not mean anything – their opinions without influence whatsoever on decisions over the when aspect of any polls, according to the law, but I think it is just not right that the ordinary voter who bears the brunt of political violence should be ignored, their views, complaints or opinions totally disregarded.

Report by Tangai Chipangura

Even though they agree the political environment is not conducive for peaceful elections, Zimbabwean politicians have agreed to have elections around March next year.

There is no guarantee by that time things would have changed. If anything, indications are that the situation will be more volatile.

A snap survey by NewsDay last week showed the ordinary Zimbabwean is scared of elections because of the violence that has accompanied our polls.

President Robert Mugabe has lately made what ought to be refreshing assurances about peaceful elections, but just this weekend, his coalition partner, Morgan Tsvangirai, was telling Zimbabweans Mugabe did not mean any of what he was saying.

The Zanu PF leader, said Tsvangirai, is aware of the monstrous plots by his blood-soaked party to unleash terror upon the electorate come election time. The MDC-T leader even provided details of some of the atrocities in the making, including names behind the scheme to revisit the 2008 nightmare upon hapless voters.

Despite this frightful revelation, Tsvangirai still told villagers – some still nursing scars from the 2008 election violence in rural Zaka – that the elections would still go on. Among his audience were victims of one of the worst ravages of political violence – survivors of petrol bombing that claimed two lives and left them disfigured for life.

As if that was any meaningful assurance elections will be peaceful, free and fair, Tsvangirai said: “I will not walk to State House over dead bodies. I won’t burn down a building to get a rat.” What does that matter if others will do exactly that, Mr Prime Minister? What the villagers wanted to hear were clear promises that there will be no violence because Tsvangirai is capable of ensuring that.

What “rehabilitative and restorative justice” is Tsvangirai talking about which he claims will take away electoral fear from the people, barely five months away from elections that he has already endorsed and which are likely to be bloodier than the horrors of June 2008? It is wrong for politicians to seek power through the blood of innocent civilians. Mugabe and Tsvangirai will not witness in person any of the nightmare that they seek to expose the ordinary Zimbabwean to.

The Prime Minister is, however, no stranger to the meaning of violence and blood, having personally experienced some such on that Black Sunday of March 11, 2007 at Machipisa Police Station. It explains why he stresses the need for violence-free elections, but then a mere wish is not enough, Mr Prime Minister, especially now that you know the nature of the opponent you are facing.

Without taking Mugabe as a dishonest leader, the greatest danger that Zimbabweans face today is that their political leaders appear unable to rein in political animals of their own creation.

The President preaches peace today but, even as he speaks, his supporters will be doing something different — a scenario that leaves many wondering if he is still in charge and therefore responsible for his people’s actions. Over several months now, the President has preached peace, but evidence has increasingly shown tensions are rising by the day and the country is fast slipping back to the 2008 nightmare.

And, as we go towards elections, the nation has become more restive because of the ongoing massive military recruitment – without reason to suggest the soldiers will remain in the barracks. Tsvangirai has already said there were plans to roll out election terror units, under the command of named military men.

But, besides all these dangers that lurk behind our politicians’ selfish power hunger, the March 2013 election timetable is simply unworkable and logistically impossible if one looks at factors that are critical in enabling an election with a semblance of peace, fairness and freedom. The timing of the polls that Mugabe and Tsvangirai want is just unrealistic because of several fundamental issues that need not only resources and time, but also political will and commitment to ensure the elections are held in an atmosphere that upholds democracy.

There is no wisdom, Comrade President, Mr Prime Minister, to push for elections that will be characterised by violence or electoral fraud that will result in the contestation of the outcome and the questioning of the legitimacy of the resultant government.

The people must be allowed time to acknowledge the meaning of an election, they must not be bulldozed into polls. They must look forward to the opportunity to freely choose leaders of their choice, without fear or favour.

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