Time to end political violence culture

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Injured NPP Mujuru rally supporter Glen Norah violence

WITH by-elections scheduled for March 26, a few weeks away, there is rising concern over pockets of violence being recorded in some parts of the country.

Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists have already started accusing each other of fanning violence ahead of the polls.

While respective party leaders President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa have called for peace, on the ground political temperatures are boiling.

In 2018, six people were killed in post-election violence, and this seriously dented the country’s image.

Mnangagwa appointed a commission of inquiry headed by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe which included a British human rights barrister Rodney Dixon, a former Commonwealth secretary-general, to investigate the 2018 post-election violence.

Its key recommendations included law reform, and prosecution of perpetrators of violence.

Three years on, the recommendations necessary to prevent pre- and post-election violence have not yet been implemented as we approach the elections.

While this is just a by-election, the stakes are high and any instigation of public violence could easily morph into civil unrest given that the political atmosphere has remained tense since the last polls.

For Mnangagwa, this election is a test case to show whether his government and Zanu PF are committed to breaking with the past in observing human rights and respecting the will of the people.

This is crucial as the polls come after the country’s human rights record was under discussion at the United Nations Universal Periodic review meeting.

For Chamisa and other opposition parties, the polls will demonstrate their preparedness to assume the reins of power and their disdain for violence and human rights abuses.

It is, therefore, incumbent on all stakeholders to do the right thing to avoid a sham election.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must take a tough stance and sanction political leaders who incite public violence.

The police must also play its party to ensure perpetrators are brought to book regardless of their political affiliation.

Zimbabweans deserve a violence free and credible election.