Comment: ZANU PF’S Solidarity March & the Need to Go Beyond Artificial Peace

Following in the footsteps of the MDC Alliance’s Tuesday march during which the MDC presented a set of election reform demands to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), ZANU PF youths also staged a march yesterday. As per reports, the objective of the march was solidarity with President Mnangagwa and the prevailing pre-election peace. The march coincided with a meeting of some religious leaders who shared the ZANU Pf youth objective. As suggested by the ZANU PF and this part of clergy, the most important component pursuit in relation to the election that has been set for July 31 is peace. Forget about electoral reforms. Let us concentrate on peace and the open for business mantra that President Mnangagwa has brought upon us. This is what the ZANU PF youths and these men of collar are telling us.

It seems their emphasis is peace at all cost and by whatever means. Even if the election is to be rigged in peace, to them it does not matter. What matters to the ZANU PF youths and this particular section of religious leaders is an environment that is free of violence, even if it is at the cost of other democratic and moral principles. This sort of environment of concocted peace is what we have in Zimbabwe. On the surface, we are experiencing the most peaceful pre-election environment. Beneath the surface, we have boiling cases of past atrocities perpetrated in the name of safeguarding sovereignty. We have a peace evading capture of supposedly autonomous public and civilian institutions; among them ZEC and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). We have a flawed electoral framework masked under fake, expropriated discourses of open electoral democracy.

The Sentinel’s view is that a peace without reconciliation is, currently prevailing in Zimbabwe is no sustainable peace. There can be no free and fair elections as long a significant number of Zimbabweans is caught up in a web of fear emanating from past episodes of violence and impunity. Our clergy must be the very first to testify to the inseparable trilogy of national peace, national reconciliation and national healing.

It is also the Sentinel’s considered view that electoral fraud is violence of a kind. There can be no peace in a context in which the other is well positioned to rob another.

The logic is: Reforms first! Peaceful, free, fair and credible elections will then follow.

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