Local civic organisations under the auspices of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) have raised fears of another wave of political violence in the 2023 general elections following remarks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during a recent Zanu PF Central Committee meeting where he urged war veterans to campaign for the ruling party .
In a statement, CiZC said remarks by Mnangagwa could lead to political violence as the former liberation war fighters have in the past led violent campaigns.
“On March 27, 2021, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while addressing the Zanu PF Central Committee meeting urged war veterans to rally behind the ruling party, Zanu PF and campaign for the party in the upcoming 2023 elections.
“The President’s call to the war veterans raises fears of a violent election especially given the fact that war veterans aligned to the ruling party have a well-known record and history of violence against opposition supporters. War veterans are on record pledging to go to war should Zanu PF lose in elections and this has largely been the basis of their violence and terror against opposition supporters.” read the statement.
CiZC called on war veterans to exercise peace and tolerance in political processes.
“It is in light of this background that Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition implores the war veterans to ensure peace and tolerance in their involvement in the country’s political processes. The huge sense of entitlement on the part of the war veterans (which has also been their basis for political violence) is unacceptable in a democratic society.
“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we hope the President’s call for war veterans to mobilise and campaign for Zanu PF does not translate into reactivation of the ruling party’s violence machinery. On another note, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition remains deeply concerned over the continued arbitrary arrests and incarceration of civic society and opposition activists as part of efforts by the ruling party to silence dissent,”
The Coalition added “The continued arrests, which have been condemned by some sections of the international community, have put a huge dent on the country’s image and consequently, continue to work against efforts at re-engaging the international community.
“As Crisis Coalition, we reiterate that respect for democratic principles and upholding citizens’ fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution should form the basis for meaningful re-engagement with the international community.”
During the 2008 election re-run, war veterans aligned to Zanu PF were accused of violence that led to the death of more than 200 opposition supporters.