President Robert Mugabe and leader of the ruling Zanu PF party kicks off his ‘Meet the youth’ rallies in Marondera on Friday 2, June. The rally is seen as a launch of campaigns for the 2018 elections. It comes at a time when there are power contestations that have degenerated into politically motivated violence, the most recent case being the physical confrontations involving youths and war veterans in Bulawayo a week ago.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project is appealing to the President as leader of the ruling party to set the tone of the forthcoming elections. ZPP is convinced that leaders of political parties hold the key to whether the elections are laden with violence or not. In the past the President has condemned political violence and he has also spoken against conflict that is tearing his party apart. At the burial of former Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku he urged his supporters to practice political tolerance. As head of state, President Mugabe has an extra burden of preaching peace and tolerance particularly with the view that these rallies will receive coverage from the sole national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. The image of Zimbabwe has been tainted by previous electoral violence so a message of peace will set the tone for peaceful credible 2018 elections.
The audience of these rallies is young people who have been responsible for most of the electoral violence this country has witnessed. The rallies will provide the President the platform to condemn the involvement of young people in acts of political violence. In the true spirit of tolerance and creating a conducive environment for polls ZPP also believes a toning down of hate language has the potential of eliminating some triggers for political violence. The constitution provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association and it is ZPP’s hope that citizens will not be forced to attend and in some instances will not be made to abandon their livelihood activities to attend these rallies.
ZPP is worried that tensions in political parties and between political parties may spill into the 2018 elections and therefore appeals to the head of state and government to use the impending 10 rallies as a platform to preach peace and reign in violent party supporters. We have already seen intra-party violence within the ruling party spiraling out of control and resulting in the stabbing of an opposition party supporter, Ashley Mdutshwa in Chiwundura constituency last week. The ZPP is of the view that President Mugabe is an integral player in the fight against political violence.
ZPP is a Non Governmental Organization that was founded in 2000 by a group of faith based and human rights NGOs working and interested in human rights and peace-building initiatives. ZPP has become a vehicle for civic interventions in times of political crises. In particular, ZPP seeks to monitor and document incidents of human rights violations and breaches of peace.
If you are concerned about acts of violence in your community, ZPP encourages you to get in touch with us on Hotline and WhatsApp numbers
+263 774 883 406 and +263 774 883 417
Toll Free: 080 80199