By Daniel Chigundu
VICE President Kembo Mohadi has said the burden of ensuring that the country holds a free, fair and credible election is everyone’s responsibility, adding that all stakeholders must play their part.
Zimbabwe is expected to hold harmonised elections between 21 July and 21 August and these elections have a huge bearing on the country’s economic recovery as the international community has demanded free, fair and credible elections if the country hopes to get support to move out of its current economic logjam.
Since his inauguration on 24 November at the National Sports Stadium, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to hold credible elections but there have been complaints about the delays in putting electoral reforms required for free, fair and credible elections.
Addressing delegates at the Symposium on peace and 2018 harmonised elections organised by the Election Resource Centre (ERC) Vice President Mohadi said free and fair elections take a collective effort.
“One can also not ignore the initiatives for peace-building from CSOs. These are all commendable actions that resonate with the government’s view that peace-building is every citizen’s duty. It is when one understands and appreciates the nation’s architecture for peace that one can locate their efforts effectively to build peace.
“Government continues to call upon all political parties to nurture an environment of tolerance and preach peace before, during and after the elections in order for the free, fair and credible election.
“It takes the collective responsibility of each and every one of us to demonstrate to the world that we have indeed come of age,” he said.
Mohadi added that Zimbabwe “does not require violence, intimidation and other obstacles for people to demand the right to express their will through the ballot box.
“Our electoral laws offer equal conditions and opportunities for citizens to have access to polling stations and to vote and so every citizen of this country should help us uphold these laws.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is mandated to undertake voter education and other related processes as these are critical for peacebuilding and the assurance of security during the elections,” said the Vice President.
According to the Vice President, voter education mitigates the risk of violence by educating the electorate on democratic procedures and responsibilities, thereby empowering vulnerable communities and enhancing the legitimacy and transparency of the voting process.
He urged the country to embrace diversity and tolerance, adding the elections come and go and that they should not serve to divide people.
“As a nation that embraces cultural and political diversity we need to continuously remind ourselves that elections come and go but we should remain united and put the aspirations of the country first,” he said.
Parliament was this week ceased with the contentious Electoral Amendment Bill which is expected to address some of the flaws that have been highlighted in the current Electoral Act.
However, most of the changes that were being demanded by opposition parties and civil society organisations were rejected by the Minister of Justice and Parliamentary Affair Ziyambi Ziyambi who said most of them were not relevant as they were covered by other existing laws