Political parties in Zimbabwe sign ‘peace pledge’ ahead of elections
Zimbabwe's major political parties have all united and called for peaceful elections.
4H Zimbabwe, a peace-based NGO, last week, summoned the ruling Zanu-PF party and two main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and MDC-T to sign a peace pledge ahead of harmonised general elections to be held on the 23rd of August this year.
The meeting was meant to ensure that the country ends the culture of experiencing violence and bloodshed everytime it holds elections.
Zanu-PF was represented by Farai Marapira who works in the party’s information department. He called for tolerance as one of the factors that will foster peace.
“In view of these elections that are upon us, as Zanu PF, we would like to encourage all and sundry, regardless of political affiliation, to exercise peace and restraint as we engage each other,” he said.
“I am here to also reiterate the message by our president and first secretary President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has said that we should have peace, peace, peace and more tolerance to one another.
“So, I encourage all of us as Zimbabweans to tolerate one another, to engage one another and to find peace.”
Marapira added: “A difference in ideology, a difference of ideas can only make us stronger, it does not make us weaker.
“So, let us come together as one with our differences and build a better Zimbabwe.”
Stephen Chuma who represented CCC called on Zanu-PF to move beyond rhetoric but to practice peace on the ground.
“If we want genuine peace and real peace and practical peace in this country, but we run away from the truth and just want reconciliation, we have not started,” he said.
“It’s important to let the people pour out their experiences, let them speak about their feelings.
“If we choose to bottle them up and say let’s not talk about that one because we will be pointing fingers, let’s just talk about unity and peace, then, I tell you, we are going to have another scenario of the late leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo where they lifted hands in unity but still in Matabeleland the people have not yet healed.
“Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to come here and we speak about peace but (later) when I go through my phone, the next thing is that someone in Murewa has been assaulted or has his leg cut.
“It means we are wasting our effort and time if we cannot address, as leaders, the issues of violence. So, yes, we need peace whether you are Zanu PF or CCC.
“We need a society where people speak their minds freely and not have repercussions after saying things, of course we do not encourage hate speech, we have seen what happened in Rwanda.”
The event was also graced by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) spokesperson Obert Gutu who emphasised the need for Zimbabwe to grow from contestation of ideas and not violence.
“I am happy that I have witnessed dialogue amongst political contenders,” Gutu said.
“I hope that as time goes on, we will be able to engage more in a battle of ideas, not a battle of who has more brawn than brains, who can beat each other better than the other.
“This is the Zimbabwe we want to build which is a battleground of ideas and not a battleground of insults, vulgarity and all sorts of things that do not speak to developing us as a nation.”