EDITORIAL COMMENT: Let’s maintain peace, tranquility ahead of polls

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

THE new dispensation under President Mnangagwa has ushered in a new way of doing things in all facets of life and includes the forthcoming harmonised elections which will be conducted in a free, fair and credible manner.

For the first time in a long while Zimbabweans are free to campaign for their respective political parties in an atmosphere of absolute peace and tranquility never before witnessed in this country. Even the historic 1980 general elections which brought independence were peppered with acts of violence, intimidation and all manner of skullduggery given what was at stake then.

True to its word, the Government of President Mnangagwa is living up to its promises and availing freedoms to all political actors to do as they wish as they campaign for votes.

It is trite to note that due to the opening up of the political space, there are many political parties contesting the harmonised elections than ever before.

This is how it should be. Every citizen of this country should be free to exercise their right to vie for political office or vote for a candidate of their choice.

There is an air of hope and optimism throughout the country.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance is fast running out of grievances, it’s not even funny. We believe the 2018 polls should be about issues not protest. The MDC has been riding on a protest vote since its formation in 1999. Now that the Government is speaking to the very same issues the opposition has been clamouring for, some of its supporters are slowly moving away from the MDC and are prepared to give President Mnangagwa an opportunity to complete the work that he has begun.

MDC Alliance presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa could be forgiven for appearing to be detached from reality by promising Zimbabweans fantasies — he simply has no message, which is different from his main contender, President Mnangagwa.

The Government has instituted far reaching reforms on the economic front, cracked down on corruption, reduced Government expenditure, improved operational efficiency in its bureaucracy, opened up the media space and attracted billions in Foreign Direct Investment in the six months since the dawn of a new era.

On the political front, President Mnangagwa has been at the forefront of preaching peace during the pre-election period. Members of his ruling Zanu-PF party have heeded his message and it is a joy to watch as opposition MDC supporters freely mix and mingle with their counterparts from Zanu-PF without a single drop of blood being spilled.

Last week, both parties held marches and rallies in central Harare without incident. Mr Chamisa and his allies have been traversing the length and breadth of this country canvassing for votes unhindered. They have managed to hold rallies in Zanu-PF strongholds in rural Mashonaland unmolested.

The MDC Alliance Manifesto launch was broadcast live on ZBC television and radio stations in compliance with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission requirements to give all political parties equal access to the media. Although the event was marred by colourful and obscene language from one of the Alliance principals, Mr Tendai Biti, who used profanities to describe Zanu-PF, the launch was beamed in its entirety to millions of Zimbabweans watching at home.

Other public media such as Zimpapers are also giving all political parties space in their newspapers, radios and other platforms. Pertaining to the logistics for the running of the elections themselves, Zec has said it is awaiting delivery of ballot papers and indelible ink to be used in the July 30 polls.

Negotiations with the supplier of ballot papers and indelible ink were finalised last week while the company that will print the ballot papers was identified last month. Zec says it will issue details of the companies involved for public verification before elections, as is required by the law. Both companies were identified by Zec in liaison with the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe through a direct tender.

The printing of ballot papers will be done locally while the company that will supply the ballot paper and indelible ink were scouted from the region. The electoral management body is currently cleaning up the voters’ roll, after which the commission will release the final voters’ roll.

Government is certainly complying with all the requirements needed for the holding of a free, fair and credible election. We hope the opposition, particularly the MDC Alliance, has been put on notice and stands ready to take part in a process that will certainly produce an uncontested outcome. They cannot argue that the playing field is uneven when the bulk of their grievances have been addressed.

The international community should also give credit where it’s due and commend the new dispensation for a job well done. Come July 30, the voice of the people, which is the voice of God, will ring out loud and clear.