Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday begged his party supporters to refuse to be tricked into acts of political violence by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
Addressing a “thank-you rally” in Bulilima East, Matabeleland South, Chamisa claimed that the ruling party was resorting to violence to intimidate the electorate ahead of the 2023 elections.
Chamisa made the call following recent acts of political violence in Matebeleland South’s Insiza and Matobo districts after suspected Zanu PF activists went on the rampage, assaulting CCC members.
CCC Bulawayo proportional representation legislator Jasmine Toffa was left nursing a broken hand after she fell victim to the violence.
“Once they see that they are losing they start beating people, but I want to encourage you not to be dragged into such cowardice,” Chamisa said.
“We want peace in this country. Our chiefs and headmen must preach and encourage peace,” Chamisa said.
“We have seen political violence in Insiza and Matobo some few weeks ago where Zanu PF people were beating up people.
“We don’t allow people to fight over politics. We want people to fight over ideas, but not physically.
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“We want people to disagree on how to develop our country, not disagree in a way where people are beaten and their houses burnt.”
He was accompanied by a number of senior party officials such as Welshman Ncube.
Earlier on before the rally, Zanu PF branded vehicles without number plates were seen driving around the venue in what was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate people from attending the rally held at Tjangwa.
The CCC won two of the three council seats in the Bulilima Rural District Council by-elections held in September.
“What is left for us as we go to the general election in the next seven months is winning together and we want a wide margin, a big margin for the president, a big margin for the MPs, a big margin for the councillors,” Chamisa said.
“In order for us to change our country register big, let’s register big, let’s go and vote big, let’s go and win big, let’s defend our votes big.”
Political nalysts have predicted a violent run-up to the 2023 polls where Chamisa is likely to square off with President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has been endorsed as the Zanu PF presidential candidate.
Mnangagwa won the disputed 2018 elections with a narrow margin as he reiterated his call for UN supervised elections.
Chamisa urged his supporters to remain vigilant in the face of violence.
“I want you to be strong, this is the last mile. Mnangagwa is scared and shaking,” he said.
“We want the United Nations (UN) to supervise the elections.
“We are inviting the Southern African Development Community. We want the voters’ roll to be known by everyone.”
Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the disputed 2018 elections and the opposition leader refused to accept the outcome as he argued that the polls were rigged.
Mnangagwa, who will be seeking a second full term in office next year, has already started campaigning with the formation of various groups to drum up support for him.