Former Irish president Mary Robinson yesterday urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and the military not to revert “to past tactics of violence”whatever the outcome of the July 30 elections.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Robinson, who is also former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, spoke in Harare as members of the Elders Council concluded their fact-finding mission ahead of the crucial polls.
“Zimbabwe is blessed with talented, eloquent and passionate people,” she said.
“We have been deeply impressed by the commitment of civil society groups here to build a better future for their country.
“The authorities and security services must continue to allow free expression whatever the election outcome, and not revert to past tactics of violence and intimidation.”
The military was accused of spearheading Zanu PF’s violent election campaign in 2008 after former president Robert Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential election to the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Elders, who were brought together by late former South African president Nelson Mandela, tried to intervene during the political crisis sparked by the violent campaign.
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, who led the delegation that arrived in Zimbabwe last week, said the country stood a better chance for a rebirth with the forthcoming elections,
“You have a unique opportunity as a country and you should seize it and we would want to work with you and help you more in the right direction and there is lots of good will for Zimbabwe if these elections go well without violence and are seen as credible, seen as elections with integrity,” Annan said.
“It is good for the winner because he gets legitimacy and also ensures that the loser gets some protection.”
Annan urged politicians and their supporters to refrain from using hate speech that can potentially inflame or incite political unrest.
“Politics is a tricky business. There are demands and what is important is that we all play by the rules and we make reasonable demands,” he said.
“ If we make demands which are unreasonable and cannot be fulfilled, we are complicating the process.
“So, I will urge everyone to be reasonable, operate within the rules, question where there is need for questions and if they feel aggrieved, use the legal mechanisms to seek redress, but we should be careful what we say and what we demand.”
Robinson strongly spoke against the abuse of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba on social media.
Meanwhile, the Sadc election observer mission was launched in Harare yesterday with promises that it would be impartial.
The head of the mission Tete Antonio from Angola appealed to the contestants in the polls to behave responsibly.