NOW that the air has been cleared on the date of this year’s elections, we sincerely hope that every Zimbabwean will from today onwards embrace the spirit of peace.
The next two and half months will be critical for every Zimbabwean and we pray that the demon of violence is not awoken by hate speech and incitement of violence by overzealous individuals who have caused unnecessary torment to innocent nationals.
Section 67 of the country’s Constitution, decrees: “Every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any elective public office… to make political choices freely… to form, to join and to participate in the activities of a political party or organisation of their choice; to campaign freely and peacefully for a political party or cause; to participate in peaceful political activity; and to participate, individually or collectively, in gatherings or groups or in any other manner, in peaceful activities to influence, challenge or support the policies of the government or any political or whatever cause.”
If our Constitution clearly stipulates this, then there should absolutely be no reason why violence of any form should visit this nation in the next two and half months and after August 23, which has been proclaimed as the date for this year’s elections.
The preambles of all political party manifestos should, in fact, be section 67 which must guide their conduct and what they say. It should, in fact, be mandatory that all manifestos carry provisions of section 67 because this is the only way peace can prevail in our country during elections.
There should also be custodial sentences for political parties or their members who flout section 67. It is actually a misnomer that no political party or member of a political party has been dragged before the courts for contravening section 67 specifically when it comes to freedom of choice.
We have certain political parties in this country which strangely believe that enjoyment of the provisions of section 67 is their preserve. This warped mentality should never be given the chance to proliferate during the coming election.
It is sad that past elections have defined us as a violent people who bash each other come election time and it is sincerely hoped that the 2023 general elections will redefine us and chart a new beginning in the manner we conduct ourselves before, during and after an election.
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This election should be a contest to bring out the best in us. The best brains to lead us into the next five years should come from both the ruling and opposition stables so that we have robust debates in Parliament and councils.
But this can only happen if nationals are given the chance to freely and secretly choose the people they want to represent them. Monopolisation of the political space by any party is not good for our democracy; it does not bring out the best in us. It robs us of our inherent potential.
As Zimbabweans, we should respect each other’s right to freely make political choices. Peace be with us this election.