Human Rights Watch (HRW) has challenged the army to stop meddling in elections and called upon President Emmerson Mnangagwa to walk the talk on his pledge of free, fair and credible elections.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, HRW Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said the electoral field will never be level if the military keeps poking its nose in electoral affairs.

“There is lack of reforms that risks Zimbabwe elections and we call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to act on his pledge of free and fair elections. We ask President Mnangagwa top go beyond mere rhetoric and take genuine steps to level the playing field for all candidates and their parties,” he said.

Mavhinga said for a long time the Zimbabwe National Army and other State security sector forces interfered with the nation’s political and electoral affairs of the country thereby adversely affecting the right of many Zimbabweans to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Mavhinga said Mnangagwa must stamp his authority and ensure the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is allowed to do its job in a transparent manner and without any form of interference.

“President Mnangagwa and his administration should level the electoral playing field by preventing the military from engaging in partisan politics or interfering in electoral processes and taking strong action to deter violence and intimidation by the military during the campaign period and also the elections.

“The military leadership should publicly demonstrate its commitment to a fair election process and not interfere with the outcome of the vote,” he said.

On Zec, Mavhinga said the electoral mother body should also take time to demonstrate its impartiality ahead of the forthcoming harmonised elections.

Mavhinga also deplored the intra-party violence that rocked both the MDC-T and Zanu PF during the primary elections. He also took a swipe at the MDC-T’s militia group, saying all parties must exercise tolerance.

He said there was widespread intimidation and threats of violence by Zanu PF members who are reminding the public about the violence of 2008.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) blasted political parties for internal fighting emanating from primary elections.

“Personally, I have spoken against the MDC-T’s Vanguard, that group should be disbanded and equally so Zanu PF vigilante groups, many of them including Chipangano should be disbanded. But this is the role of the security apparatus, the law enforcement agents should not allow such kind of lawlessness when they abuse human rights,” ZDI director, Pedzisai Ruhanya said.

Institute of Public Affairs in Zimbabwe executive secretary, Tamuka Chirimambowa also slapped Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe for his statements that Zanu PF will not cede power even when defeated in the forthcoming elections.