The Election Resource Centre has raised alarm over the increse in politcally motivated violence cases around the country as the nation braces for a highly election period,.
In recent weeks, there have been several confirmed and unconfirmed reports of political violence by both the ruling ZanuPF and opposition Citizens for Coalition (CCC)
In a statement, the Election Resource Centre said the recent by-elections have become a hotspot for violence, intimidation and criminal activities from political party supporters of late.
“The Election Resource Centre (ERC) notes with concern violence experienced in by-election sites as the country gears up for the 2023 Harmonized elections. Political party leaders and followers are urged by the ERC to accept opposing viewpoints and to remember that politics in Zimbabwe is about dissenting opinions. Furthermore, ERC calls on responsible bodies to investigate and prosecute the instigators of violence without fear or favor,” the statement reads.
The election watchdog stated that the current conditions will make it difficult to meet the standards needed to conduct the Matobo Ward by-election as they don not support the conduct of a free, fair, and credible election.
“With each subsequent by-election, the pattern and use of violence has intensified. ERC categorically condemns the use of force, coercive measures and physical violence no matter the circumstances. Peaceful elections are possible and political leaders must publicly condemn the violence and publicly pledge to bring violent supporters to order as a matter of urgency,” the statement further reads.
Their sentiments were echoed by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network which implored political parties and leaders to desist from intimidations amd violence.
“The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores political party leaders and their supporters to foster peace ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections. The call comes against the prevailing toxic political environment which has been characterized by a spate of inter-party as well as intra-party violence that occurred in Matobo and Insiza.
“These violent clashes have a potential to adversely affect the participation in democratic electoral processes of the electorate in particular vulnerable groups,” ZESN said.
The Network further called on political parties to foster peace, come up with conflict management mechanisms and create a conducive political environment where divergent views are respected and where all citizens enjoy their fundamental rights without fear in line with the dictates of Section 67 (2) of the Constitution which provides for fundamental rights.
ZESN also urged political parties to engage the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in such instances so that they investigate, speak out against violence, uncover the causes behind the conflicts, and assist all victims of the conflict, to facilitate dialogue among political parties and offer possible solutions in order to prevent conflicts and disputes arising in the future.
ZESN , in addition, called on the perpetrators of violence to be arrested without fear or favor.
Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern African Development Committee, the African Union and the international community at large.
Zimbabwe is also a signatory of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) which stipulates in Article 8 that State Parties shall eliminate all forms of discrimination, especially those based on political opinion, gender, ethnic, religious and racial grounds as well as any other form of intolerance. .