Zimbabwe police chief says there is ‘peace’ ahead of polls

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) say there is relative peace across the country, despite isolated pockets of violence ahead of the 23 August general elections.

Addressing election observers and journalists in Harare, Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said, “as such, the situation in the country was generally peaceful ahead of the polls”.

“The most notable case of politically motivated violence was the killing of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change [CCC] activist Tinashe Chitsunge, who was allegedly stoned to death while fleeing a Zanu-PF mob last week in Harare’s Glen Norah.”

Fifteen suspects were arrested and face charges of political violence. They later appeared in court and are out of custody on R1 900 bail each.

According to Matanga, Chitsunge was run over by a truck and not stoned, as “widely said by the CCC”.

“The deceased Tinashe Chitsunge, aged 44, was run over by a truck in the course of politically motivated skirmishes,” he said.

A week before the polls, there have been simmering tempers as parties are in a last-minute rush to convince the electorate to vote for them.

Zanu-PF’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, dispatched senior party members such as his vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, and Kembo Mohadi to hold simultaneous rallies across the country.

The CCC’s Nelson Chamisa is also on overdrive, but 40 CCC activists were arraigned today in the Harare Magistrates Court and accused of holding an illegal campaign roadshow in Harare’s Glenview suburb on Tuesday.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Douglas Mwonzora pulled out of the presidential race, despite his name appearing on the ballot paper.

Mwonzora, for the more significant part of the election season, was accused of being a Zanu-PF ally by the CCC.

He urged the same CCC to boycott an election, which he said would be unfair and skewed in favour of Zanu-PF.

“Participating in this election is an act of foolish bravery. This election is stacked against the opposition; already, laws are being changed as the election process is going on,” he said at a Media Institute of Southern Africa dialogue yesterday.

But the election is going ahead, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it was prepared for the big day.

“I would like to assure you that we have everything in place, be it legal, social, or any other requirement, and we are eager to conduct a free, fair, and credible election,” ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said.

She added most of the electoral material had been dispatched nationwide.

“The commission has procured all essential electoral materials and has delivered 80% of them to provinces under police escort.”

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