THE law will be applied firmly on elements bent on inciting anarchy in this year’s harmonised elections as authorities are committed to deliver a peaceful and credible poll, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned.
The President said while his administration tolerates divergent views, it will not allow abuse of political freedoms that have flourished in the pre-election period.
His comments come in the wake of several threats by MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to “shut down the country” and “cause chaos” if his party loses next week’s plebiscite.
Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at a rally at Mubaira growth point in Mhondoro yesterday, President Mnangagwa warned that those who cause chaos would be dealt with in terms of the law.
“If anyone causes anarchy, the rule of law will prevail. We will not allow chaos in our country. We want peace. All those that are contesting are encouraged to contest in peace because we want law and order in our country. People should be allowed to do what they want while respecting others and respecting peace,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said although political parties had freedom to canvass for the people’s vote around the country, they should not abuse democratic space by stocking flames of lawlessness.
“We accept that people have divergent views. People should not be attacked or abused because they differ with you. No, we cannot all think the same,” he said.
“We now have a certain party that says it wants to shut down Harare and to shut down the country. God forbid! We have asked ourselves what this small party intends to do and how it intends to do it and on what grounds. Kana wangova mukaka wawadya, ingodya mukaka wako ugute zvakanaka.
“We are preaching peace and we are saying everyone, including this small party, has the freedom to go around the country to woo the people’s vote. No-one will stop any party from asking the people to vote for them. They are free to do so because we have created a democratic space to allow every party to go to the people and campaign freely but they should do so freely. We do not have a problem with those who say peace is OK.”
He said the peace pledge signed by most of the country’s political parties should be adhered to to maintain the peaceful environment that has prevailed in the lead-up to the poll.
“The elections are now imminent and we have 153 political parties in Zimbabwe. Out of these, 55 will take part in the forthcoming election and 23 will take part in the Presidential poll. We have said let us commit to peace and to non-violence. Most of these political parties signed a peace pledge in which they committed to peace and non-violence.”
President Mnangagwa said his administration was committed to peace and tolerance, adding that the era of toxic politics fronted by characters of the “Delilah mentality” was now history.
“We say no violence, no violence. We want a peaceful election campaign. We do not want to go back to the era of the interface rallies. Haachadzoki zvakare, ana Delilah vakainda, vakainda,” he said in apparent reference to former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe who was notorious for her acerbic tongue and hate speech.
The President said his Government had opened the door to observers from all over the world to observe the elections because the country was now “mature and had come of age” in implementing democracy.