Political violence will trigger voter apathy: Election stakeholders

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Protesters attends a woman who was caught up in cross fire when anti-riot police officers fired a teargas inside the Harare Magistrates Court building trying to disperse demonstrators who had gathered in front of the court. Harare resembled a war zone as violence flaring up after riot police violently interrupted an opposition political parties polling reform demonstration. Parties were set to march through the streets of the capital to push for electoral reforms, but were violently stopped by the police. There was heavy police presence by 9am with multiple roadblocks on major roads leading into the central business district (CBD) of Harare, Zimbabwe.

BY METHEMBE SIBANDA
INDEPENDENT political parties, civic society groups, churches and community groups under the National Reclamation Assembly (NRA) have expressed concern over the resurgence of political violence in Epworth, Kwekwe and Chitungwiza, saying this could trigger voter apathy.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, NRA secretary-general Andrew Karonga threatened to stop the March 26 by-elections to force politicians to rein in their rogue
supporters.

He also called for amendments to the Electoral Act to bar violent politicians from contesting.

Last weekend, violence broke out at a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally in Kwekwe, resulting in the death of two party supporters.

The opposition party has accused Zanu PF activists of fuelling the clashes.

“We believe political violence is the source of disputed elections, it fuels the contestation of election results. Not only that, it is also the major cause of general voter apathy, among nationals,” Karonga said.

“I must say it straight today that government stands to be blamed each time political violence erupts. It cannot evade the blame because the above-mentioned institutions have an obligation to put an end to this monster. If political violence does not end during rallies, we will stop the by-elections.”

He appealed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to take a leading role in ending political violence by penalising perpetrators.

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