Vote Out Merchants Of Violence, Roman Catholic Tells Zimbabwean Voters
8 July 2023
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THE Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), one of the fierce critics of government maladministration during the late former President Robert Mugabe’s era, has urged the electorate to vote out merchants of violence in the August 23 general elections.

The call by the Catholic priests came amid increasing reports of political violence in some parts of the country, mostly rural areas.

In a pastoral letter released on Wednesday, the ZCBC said political parties and politicians who perpetrated violence did not deserve to be voted into public office.

“Any party or politician that incites violence or persuades you to join in violent attacks, it’s not worthy your vote.

“Give your vote to those who deserve it,” the bishops said.

“It is your right and duty as citizens that you vote, in so doing, you determine the nation that you want, you choose its leaders for the next five years.

“Your vote is your personal decision and an expression of your freedom.

“Do not be intimidated, coerced, or manipulated to vote against your will.

“Refuse to be used in violent attacks against your fellow brothers and sisters.”

Their call for peace follow reports of intimidation and victimisation of villagers by two shadowy Zanu PF affiliates, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) and Heritage Trust — both linked to State security agencies.

FAZ and Heritage Trust are reportedly co-ordinating the ruling party’s campaigns to ensure President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-election.

According to reports, villagers were being forced to attend Zanu PF meetings.

Zanu PF has denied the charges, and accused the opposition of making false reports out of fear of an election defeat on August 23 with Mnangagwa saying the ruling party is “unstoppable”.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, Nelson Chamisa, has, however, urged his supporters to adopt a “green outside, yellow inside concept” where they pretend to be Zanu PF members and attend the ruling party’s campaign programmes, but vote for the opposition on election day.

The Catholic bishops urged politicians to act responsibly to ensure peace prevails before, during and after the polls.

“You have a huge responsibility for the lives of our people,” the bishops said.

“In these weeks you have spaces and the power to influence the citizens.

“Exercise this privilege responsibly.

“You need no reminder from us of the power of speech. Words have potential to build and destroy.

“Be responsible in your utterances. Work to build and promote peace.

“Avoid the use of inflammatory politically charged and derogatory language.”

The bishops urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to address concerns raised by citizens on issues under its jurisdiction. They urged the media to provide balanced and fair coverage for all political parties.

Zimbabwe has a history of holding violent and disputed elections, the worst being in 2008 when over 200 MDC supporters were left dead after Zanu PF unleashed an orgy of violence to ensure Mugabe retained power.

In 2018, at least six opposition supporters were shot dead while several others were injured in post-election violence.