Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa urges for peace as election season approaches

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged political players in his country to desist from violent confrontations as the country braces for crucial national elections in 2023.

Mnangagwa made the call during a state of the nation address in the capital Harare on Wednesday. Zimbabwe has a well-documented history of political intolerance and violence in pre- and post-election seasons.

There have been reports of growing political intolerance in many parts of the country and violent confrontations between members of the main opposition, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led by the youthful Nelson Chamisa and ruling ZANU-PF members. Some civil society groups also claimed that their members were being targeted, threatened and harassed by state agents.

Mnangagwa walked in the corridors of the R200 million six-story Chinese-funded and constructed building, to deliver the first State of the Nation Address in the new Parliament building. But with election season beckoning, the message for peace took centre stage.

“Political players, seeking the people’s mandate during the upcoming 2023 harmonised elections, must maintain and consolidate the peace, unity, harmony and love that we have built and nurtured under the second republic. Violent confrontations have never been part of our culture as a people,” says President Mnangagwa.

But the main opposition claims the opposite is transpiring on the ground and that the president is not being sincere in his pronouncement. They are demanding that the law be applied equally to both sides.

“We are seeing an increase in the repressive and dictatorial tendencies on the part of the incumbent government and what shocks us is the inability and incapacity of our police, perhaps incapacitated by ZANU-PF. They seem to have this inability to deal with the challenges and incidents of incitement of violence especially by cabinet ministers. We have seen cabinet ministers making statements that incite violence but nothing has been done to them,” says Chamisa.

The new parliament building will be officially handed over to the Zimbabwean authorities on a yet-to-be-announced date.

Officials say the state of the nation address was just a test run before the official handover.