Heal Zimbabwe expresses concern over utterances attributed to newly appointed ZANU PF national political commissar, Retired General Engelbert Rugeje. In his address on the 11th of January 2018, Rugeje warned people who had gathered at Mawungwa Business centre in Gutu to be “mindful of the violence unleashed onto the country after ZANU PF lost the 2008 general elections”. He also highlighted that people must always be aware and remember “2008” as the nation prepares for the 2018 general elections.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that given that atrocities committed in 2008 are yet to be addressed by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), threatening people using the 2008 violence is not only criminal but irresponsible. Following Rugeje’s sentiments, the organization has recorded numerous cases of intimidation from Gutu West wards 29,33,24 and 08 of community members by ZANU PF activists who are misinforming people that they have the backing of the army and will not hesitate to perpetrate violence on people who will vote for opposition parties.
It is Heal Zimbabwe’s expectation that violence and intimidation should be vices of the past given that from the time President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power, his message to the nation has been pregnant with calls for peace and unity. Heal Zimbabwe expected Rugeje in his capacity as ZANU PF national commissar to preach a message of unity and peace in order to actualize the President’s call.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that as long as past electoral violent episodes such as the 2008 violence remain unaddressed, that culture of impunity and retribution will continue to thwart efforts towards healing and reconciliation. The NPRC, a commission charged with developing mechanisms for early detection of conflicts must without delay initiate robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The NPRC must also set up an early warning and early response system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures. This will ensure that the 2018 elections are conducted in a peaceful and violent-free environment.