Last Tuesday was another historic day for Zimbabwe when all the 23 presidential aspirants in the July 30 national harmonised elections signed a high level peace pledge committing themselves and their political parties to peaceful campaigns ahead of the polls.
The pledge which is the first of its kind in the history of elections in Zimbabwe is in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s repeated call for free, fair, peaceful and credible elections. The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) organised the signing ceremony.
Addressing the presidential candidates at the signing ceremony, NPRC chairperson, retired Justice Selo Nare said it was incumbent upon all Zimbabweans to work together for the development of the country. “Today marks an important step in our nation as all of us come together to collaborate in our efforts to contribute to sustainable peace and development,” he said.
Retired Justice Nare said peaceful elections are a key ingredient for long term peace and development in the country and his commission had a key role in contributing towards this goal. He said it was important for Zimbabweans to all work together for social cohesion and nation building.
The political leaders by signing the high level peace pledge are saying they will do all within their powers to ensure the campaigns are peaceful. President Mnangangwa who is also the Zanu-PF presidential candidate has on many fora preached the gospel of peace and it is our fervent hope that following the signing of the peace pledge, all leaders of political parties will do the same.
Zimbabwe which has a record number of presidential aspirants, should this year demonstrate political maturity by holding free, fair, peaceful and credible elections. The other countries from the region and beyond should draw lessons from us on how to conduct peaceful elections involving many many political parties.
The commitment shown by political leaders who signed the peace pledge should cascade to different levels of their respective parties so that those participating in the elections and the electorate appreciate that elections are just a contest where individuals win because of what they have sold to the electora te.
Given the level of literacy among our voters, violence, intimidation and coercion will never win votes. The nation should therefore denounce violence and terrorism as a means of campaigning ahead of the elections. What was witnessed in Bulawayo when attempts were made to assassinate President Mnangagwa at White City Stadium should never be allowed to happen again.
Zimbabwe is a democracy and those that want to preside over the people’s affairs as either MPs or councillors should peacefully canvass for votes as opposed to engaging in violence and terrorism acts.
It should be the responsibility of every peace-loving Zimbabwean to ensure the undesirable elements that committed acts of terrorism last Saturday are brought to book by assisting Police with information. Two innocent lives have since been lost to the Saturday barbaric act while many were maimed following the bomb blast.