ZIMBABWE Peace Project (ZPP) director Jestina Mukoko has called on political parties to shun violence and hate speech in the run-up to the March 26 by-elections and the 2023 general elections.
She was contributing to a virtual Southern Africa Political Economy Series (Sapes) Trust discussion on the topic, adverse effects of violence in electoral processes and citizen participation in Zimbabwe which was held recently.
The discussion followed an incident on February 27 where a member of the Citizens Coalition of Change (CCC), Mbongeni Ncube was killed by machete-wielding thugs at a rally which was being addressed by party leader Nelson Chamisa in Kwekwe.
Another 17 CCC supporters were injured in the attack.
Last year, Chamisa was also attacked by alleged Zanu PF activists during his meet-the-people tours around the country.
Mukoko urged political party leaders to desist from fuelling violence and hate speech during campaigns.
“As ZPP, we are concerned with the hate and inflammatory language that leaders use as well as violence which then goes down to supporters,” Mukoko said.
“We are also concerned with machete violence. This is worrying taking into consideration that such weapons did not only inflict injuries, but have carried out gruesome killings.”
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Fortune Chasi said leaders of political parties should learn to speak and preach the language of peace.
“Political parties should be accountable for their actions. Political parties must punish their members who perpetrate violence,” Chasi said.
He also said political parties should penalise or expel members for improper behaviour and those who provide money, beer and other resources to supporters to perpetrate political violence.
Gweru Urban MP and MDC Alliance secretary for legal affairs Brian Dube said: “Let us punish violent people. Let us punish them by denying them what they love. We should also profile perpetrators of violence and let their names be known. People in leadership should lead by example.”
Zapu organising secretary Kevin Mapanda said: “Politicians should speak with one voice to shame violence at their rallies. If we want peaceful elections in 2023, political parties should not involve violence in their campaigns.”