An aspiring Member of Parliament in Harare is seeking to end the cycle of violence by extending a hand of peace to his rival, before clashes break out.
Happymore Chidziva of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) at the weekend exclusively told Review & Mail that he had decided to seek peace initiatives to banish the culture of violence as he contests for Glen View North constituency.
The constituency is a hotbed of contested politics, and lies adjacent to Glen View South where a person died last week following classes between CCC supporters and ruling Zanu-PF activists.
Now in this constituency, as many of Harare’s high density suburbs, violence could rear its ugly head.
“The violence occurred in my sister constituency and we would like to ensure that it doesn’t come to us,” Chidziva said.
He said in his constituency, which is also being eyed by Zanu-PF’s Tumelo Witness Zamanga, there have been rising tensions that if not curtailed, could lead to clashes.
“Already Zanu-PF’s youths are tearing our posters and clashing with my teams,” Chidziva said.
“For that reason, I am going to engage my colleague so that we can put our heads together to prevent violence.
“I want to propose a number of things such as respecting each other’s posters and giving equitable space. They can post five and we post five, and we can do it together.
“We can even campaign together and preach peace, and I’m proposing things like football matches between CCC youths and Zanu-PF youths.
“This is how competition works, and we start off with these contests to build understanding among us,” Chidziva explained.
As political temperatures rise in Zimbabwe’s preelection season, people in both rural and urban areas are living under the looming shadow of violence – and Chidziva’s fears and solutions are well grounded.
Election violence has been endemic in Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980 with many a hotly contested election being characterised by bloodletting fomented by various actors, including the State.
In the last election, in 2018, six people died in deadly post-election violence that became subject of an international inquiry known as the Motlanthe Commission, named after former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe who led the inquiry which came up with a number of findings and recommendations that highlighted the fragility of Zimbabwe’s peace during election time.
Five years later, very few things appear to have changed, and elections set for August 2023 threaten to descend into violence again.
Chidziva said it was important to build a legacy of peace.
“Violence destroys lives and tear the nation apart,” said Chidziva – a former firebrand youth leader.
“People will remember peacebuilders and that is a legacy that we want to build,” he said.
A violence free election is key to the credibility of the forthcoming elections, which could determine the direction of the country.
Zimbabwe’s elections are being closely watched by the international community, with over 50 global media accredited to cover while diplomatic missions and embassies will also be following the poll.
President Mnangagwa has called for peace while parties and churches signed a “peace pledge” last week.
Last month, rivals in Nyanga South constituency, in Manicaland – Supa Mandiwanzira and Ruxandra McCormick – won praise after posing together for a photo and agreeing to a peaceful campaign.