ZIMBABWE’S last general elections were held in July 2018.
What this means is that if next year’s elections are going to be held roughly around the same time, the country is just about a year and a month away from its next general elections. And in keeping with tradition, Zimbabwe is already in election mode. In fact, the election fever has lingered ever since the last elections.
The election fever has risen to such levels that for a visitor to the country they would be forgiven for thinking that the “plebiscite” is due next month.
While this is expected, what is worrying though is that the heightening political temperatures have triggered chilling prospects of a violent 2023 ballot as the ruling Zanu PF party pulls out all stops to retain power.
On Saturday, for the first time since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, Zanu PF held what is called national cell day to take stock of its grassroots support base. Earlier in the week, party leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa directed the country’s former liberation war fighters to up the ante in campaigning for the ruling party.
Mnangagwa and a number in the party, who include political commissar Mike Bimha, have also started attending church gatherings preaching the gospel that: “There is going to be time to vote . . . let’s vote for a party whose history we know, not a party that gets instructions from other quarters outside the country.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong in the ruling party scaling up its campaign.
What is worrying some of us though is that the party is taking its campaigns to the pulpits of churches, which by nature are gatherings of people with different political opinions who just want to find peace and understand their moral duties in life.
Also worrying is the ruling party’s apparent entrenched misconception that all former freedom fighters are an arm of Zanu PF who can be called to arms at any given moment to carry hatchet jobs on its behalf.
Individual war veterans and church goers should be allowed to make independent decisions as to which political party they want to support.
Past experience has taught us that war veterans have been asked to campaign for the ruling party in ways that have left them being feared by those they supposedly liberated from oppression. This is a very sad past that we hope will not revisit us as we head for 2023. The war veterans themselves should not also allow themselves to be abused. They did their part and should now be left in peace and given the opportunity to enjoy life.
As for the churches, these should be apolitical and the minute they become politicised this is a recipe for disaster for the nation. Churches’ agenda should be far removed from political agendas because they will end up forgetting their role in society which is to guide people’s moral compass.
And when pulpits turn into platforms to spread political propaganda, then the church ceases to be called such.