Monday, February 19, 2018

Zimbabwe general elections won't be free and fair

I challenge the military to assure the nation that indeed the pending general elections won't be marred by intimidation and violence. Listening to President Mnangagwa's speech after his inauguration where he proclaimed that in 2018 the elections would be held in a peaceful environment although there are still vital issues to be ironed out such as aligning the Constitution in accordance with what emerged from Constitutional outreach.

The election date which in all honesty should have been announced by now to enable all participating political parties to make adequate preparations in advance is still not yet known deepening confusion as to whether the President will stand by his word that the elections would be held this year.

Already there are allegations of mass torture in rural areas of opposition members by the partisan military. Thus, how could there be peaceful and credible elections when reports of such incidents have become the order of the day.

I originate from Nkayi where the military is purported to have established a fort specifically to use as a base to deal with dissent of any kind against the unconstitutional government. A number of people that I recently spoke to over the phone have all confirmed that the situation is actually worse than what is reported in the main stream newspapers. The disturbances and activities of the army in the sensitive region remind victims of the dark period during ethnic cleansing back in the 80's.

What is even more appalling is the nature in which little kids are being treated by the very military that is constitutionally mandated to protect them. Little kids are forced to sing ZANU political praise songs. President Mnangagwa is going around the country talking about inclusivity and peace yet the military under his command is doing the opposite on the ground particularly in rural areas where recording mobile phones are being confiscated to prevent the exposure of military brutality.

In Matebeleland South, the voting slips have been forcibly taken away by ZANU militia, to ensure those voting for the opposition political parties will not cast their votes. All this is happening under the watchful eye of ZANU hierarchy including the President himself and VC President Chiwenga, who was instrumental in massacres and ordering the military to rape and rip open stomachs of pregnant women. How could the nation trust the people with heinous track records?

The military government should be constantly reminded that the world is watching all their inhuman practices are well documented and Hague cannot wait any longer to welcome them to join the likes of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.  Mugabe should be dragged too regardless of his advanced age.

Zenzo Siziba: Political activist and analyst