HARMONISED elections that will be held on August 23 are a product of the liberation struggle that secured the country’s independence from British colonial rule and are an important part of consolidating the nation’s sovereignty, President Mnangagwa has said.
The President said this in his weekly column published in the Sunday Mail adding that the country has religiously held elections when they are due and called on Zimbabweans to maintain that proud record.
President Mnangagwa last week gazetted August 23 as the day the country will go to the polls and also set out timelines for various electoral processes.
“From 1985, when our nation conducted its first general elections as a newly independent State, until now, Zimbabwe has never defaulted on its election timetable. She has always gone to the polls when these fall due. It is a proud record we must strive to uphold as a nation. I am happy that these pending elections are no exception,” he said.
“Lest the world forgets, the institution of the ballot emerged from, and was won through, our struggles as a people hankering for majority rule, for a non-racial democracy based on one person, one vote, and for complete Statehood untrammelled by foreign domination and direction. Indeed, we had to take up arms for this wholesome state of affairs to be attained and realised.
“To that end, we view our elections as an organic outcome from our liberation struggle, and as a key process for decolonising of our governance system in order to consolidate our sovereignty.”
The President said while Zimbabwe benchmarked its elections against best practices in the world, it jealously claims and retains a strong sense of proprietorship over the democracy which it brought in 1980.
“We will never tire of reminding the world that our elections are a facet of our hard-won democracy, and, thus, an institution exclusively reserved for us as Zimbabweans to shape, to participate in and, in the final analysis, to enjoy and judge.
“Any and all changes we seek legislatively; changes which we provide for institutionally; and which we claim through democratic praxis, are meant to make our democracy even more wholesome for our people, who are its sole litmus test,” he said.
The President urged the nation to ensure an environment in which Zimbabweans are able to vote without any sense of let or hindrance adding no barrier should be put in the way of citizens to prevent them from exercising their right to vote.
He added that anything that prevents people from enjoying their right to vote would be a negation of the core political goal of the liberation struggle to guarantee the right to one person, one vote.
“Nothing must be spared to ensure the environment is right and conducive for free, fair and peaceful elections in which the right to vote is available to all those eligible, in terms of our laws and laid-down procedures. Secondly, we must ensure that the ballot is secure; that every vote is counted and respected; and that the overall outcome expresses the will and choice of the sovereign people of Zimbabwe. This requires that the whole plebiscite attains levels of integrity which the people of Zimbabwe can vouch and attest to. Above all, this requires that our whole electoral process is fool-proof and insulated against undue influence and manipulation by outsiders and foreigners. No foreign power is a stakeholder in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes; this is why foreigners come in by invitation, and participate as observers, and not as monitors,” President Mnangagwa said.
The President said at an appropriate time, Government will invite international observers to the elections, which will be run transparently in terms of the country’s laws, and in fulfilment of guidelines set out by Sadc.
He added that the harmonised elections must underpin and advance peace and stability for the nation and said on his part and the ruling party, Zanu PF, peace remained a priceless goal whose attainment nothing should be spared.
“I urge all other players in our electoral process to make the same pledge, and to be sworn to unconditional peace for our nation. Let me sternly warn those bent on political violence that a harsh response awaits them.
“We consider political violence a challenge to the whole State, in which case all levers of the State: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary must act in concert, and with a strong, unflinching sense of shared resolve and common purpose to stamp it out,” the President said.
He warned that those guilty of political violence, or for inciting political violence, must be speedily put away so they do not become a menace to society, and to its democratic processes.
“If it means setting up special courts for the speedy trial of those accused of perpetrating or instigating political violence, so be it,” he said.
In last week’s proclamation, the President also set October 2 as the day for a Presidential run-off election, should that become necessary.
The Nomination Court will sit on June 21 to consider and accept candidates in the Presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.
Provincial Assemblies of Chiefs shall meet to elect chiefs who will take up seats in the Council of Chiefs on August 3.