Editorial Comment: Peaceful elections possible in Zim

Zim Elections

The election campaign season is officially on after the nomination court process was concluded last week and whatever happens between now and August 23 as political parties canvass for support, will determine the credibility of the polls.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa will face 10 other contestants including Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa and exiled former Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.

Mnangagwa will be seeking his last term in office after he narrowly won the disputed 2018 elections against Chamisa for his first term, which resulted in questions over his legitimacy.

The 2018 elections were also tainted by the bloody violence of August 1 where innocent people were shot dead by marauding solders on the streets of Harare.

Former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe was brought in to lead a commission that investigated the killings and made several recommendations to prevent similar bloodshed in future elections.

Mnangagwa’s government has largely ignored the recommendations and that means the possibility of a repeat of the 2018 scenario remains high.

Last year, there was political violence during campaigns for the March 26 by-elections that was mainly blamed on Zanu PF supporters and state security agents.

Most of the people behind the violence, including the murder of CCC supporters, have not been made to account for their crimes.

It is such impunity that emboldens merchants of political violence to commit crimes during election campaigns and the vicious cycle will continue as long as there is selective application of the law.

Zimbabwe desperately needs a clean election for an economic reset.

The country has been in isolation for far too long because of election malpractices and violation of human rights.

Mnangagwa’s re-engagement agenda has been an unmitigated failure because of his lack of appetite for reforms and August 23 presents an opportunity for him to forge a better legacy.

To do that he needs to deliver a credible election.

As the leader of the ruling party and government, he has all the power to ensure that the elections are peaceful by allowing state security agencies such as the Central Intelligence Organisation, police and the army to discharge their duties impartially and that Zanu PF plays by the rules.

He also needs to rein in his lieutenants who fuel polarisation through incendiary language they use on social media and in the public media.

Perpetrators of political violence must also be dealt with without fear or favour for the country to hold peaceful elections.

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