CHURCHES have urged political parties and aspiring candidates to campaign peacefully as the country is now fully in the election season following Wednesday sitting of the Nomination Court.
Zimbabwe will hold elections on August 23.
The call for a peaceful poll by church leaders comes at a time when Government is equipping police with adequate resources to deal with violence-related crimes.
An elections command committee that is spearheading the police deployment has since been set up.
In the past, the country has witnessed skirmishes during and after the elections.
Apostole Anna Mtondowe
Roman Catholic Church Bulawayo Archbishop Alex Thomas said the forthcoming elections should be held in a peaceful environment allowing people to vote without being intimidated.
“We hope they are registered and when the time comes, they should be able to vote consciously.
“They must stay away from political violence or intimidation. They must be peaceful, respect each other in everything they do.
People may have different opinions but they must be tolerant and choose their candidate to the best of their ability,” said Archbishop Thomas.
He also encouraged political parties and candidates to fulfil electoral promises and avoid taking citizens for a ride.
“For the candidates, they should be responsible, they should keep their promises. If they promise something to the electorate they should fulfil it, they should do everything for the common good and the majority of the people,” he said.
Archbishop Thomas said the churches should also play a critical role of preaching peace during the election season.
Council of Churches in Africa president Bishop Dr Rocky Moyo said peace must prevail during elections as polls should reflect the will of the people.
He said candidates should take the lead in promoting peace during the campaigns.
“Elections come and go but we remain one people. We have a country to develop beyond the elections. So, I would like to congratulate every candidate that will contest in the August 23 harmonised elections,” he said.
Archbishop Dr Moyo said the church will continue preaching peace during this election season.
“We therefore urge our leaders, those that God chose to lead the people, not to incite violence. I urge those who sailed through the nomination process to lead by example. We don’t want any destruction or anyone starting violence. We want people to vote peacefully. We need to work together in the development of the country and an election must not divide us,” said Dr Archbishop Moyo.
He urged young people to desist from being used to instigate anarchy.
New Life Ministries Founder Apostle Anna Mtondowe said women and the girl child are most affected when violence breaks out hence it is important to protect them through peaceful campaigns.
“The message that we are preaching is that peace must prevail as we are getting towards elections. We expect peace to prevail before, during and after elections. The Bible says blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons and daughters of God. So we are encouraging every political party to carry out their campaigns in peace, love and harmony,” said Apostle Mtondowe.
She said Zimbabweans should understand that when the country holds its polls it will attract global attention hence brand Zimbabwe should be promoted by being peaceful.
Apostle Mtondowe said as the church they will pray for peace ahead of the polls.
Zimbabwe Christian Alliance executive director Reverend Useni Sibanda said elections are a constitutional obligation that should be fulfilled without violence.
He said as an organisation, they rally behind President Mnangagwa’s message that Zimbabweans should vote peacefully.
“The most important message that we are sending to political parties is that they must all campaign peacefully. What we should appreciate is that we are all Zimbabweans and that after the elections we live as neighbours,” said Rev Sibanda.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)
He said no person should lose their life or limb because of the election period.
“I’m glad that the top leadership of the country has been saying the same thing. We must all campaign peacefully,” said Rev Sibanda.
He said as an organisation they are involved in peace campaigns where political players are also involved.
“We are now training political party youths to campaign peacefully. We are bringing all the major political parties together. We also want to work with ZEC on the multi-party liaison committees that they have created so that where there are disagreements and conflicts we assist to resolve,” said Rev Sibanda.