Recent utterances by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the country’s main opposition, the MDC Alliance is ‘a terrorist organization’ are meant to justify a planned clampdown on the opposition ahead of the 2023 elections.
As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we are concerned that past events have proven that Zanu PF is gearing for violent elections in 2023.
The government has revived the National Youth Training Service programme and the nation remembers with sadness how the graduates from the National Youth Training Service programme, popularly known as 'Green Bombers' unleashed violence against opposition supporters during past elections.
In May (2021), President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged war veterans to campaign for Zanu PF ahead of the 2023 elections and this again raises fears of a violent election given the violent nature of war veterans during election campaigns. Memories of the violence perpetrated by war veterans aligned to Zanu PF in 2000, 2002 and 2008 are still fresh.
On May 25, 2021 scores of Zanu PF supporters gathered in Harare for the unveiling of a statue of long gone heroine Mbuya Nehanda and Zanu PF supporters who attended the occasion took the opportunity to threaten violence against opposition supporters.
Following this, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition implored the ruling party, Zanu PF to censure its supporters and publicly disassociate itself from the threats of violence but despite our passionate call, the ruling party remained silent.
It is unfortunate that the ruling party has gone a gear up to threaten more violence, and this time, it is President Mnangagwa himself inciting Zanu PF supporters against the opposition.
Zimbabweans remember with sadness the murder of more than 20 000 civilians by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade during the Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s and Zanu PF justified the massacres on the grounds that they were dealing with ‘dissidents’.
Given, the ruling party’s penchant for unleashing violence, President Mnangagwa’s recent statements therefore raises fears of yet another planned decimation of the opposition through arbitrary arrests, murder, abductions, rape among other vices.
We implore the ruling party to uphold peace and embrace political tolerance.