Story by Bruce Chahwanda, Political Editor
The negative utterances by opposition Citizens Coalition for Change spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere at a recent international forum have attracted the attention of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the legal fraternity who have stressed the importance of preaching peace as the country heads towards general elections.
Mahere was speaking at a human rights conference in Geneva early this week.
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu described Mahere’s grandstanding as unfortunate saying the utterances poke emotions at a time when the country is in an election season where peace is of utmost importance.
“We normally want to encourage people to be mindful of what we say, where we say it and how we say it. It’s very unfortunate when utterances that might have the effect of disturbing peace are made here in Zimbabwe or outside the country there might have the effect of disturbing the peace because I understand from my observation that a number of people are very upset about what she said in Geneva. I happen to have watched the video as well and I’m saying from a peace-building perspective, those issues she raised could have been raised locally as they say the best approach is to use domestic remedies before you go out of your own house to talk about domestic issues.
“As a peacebuilding institution mandated by the supreme of the land to build peace in Zimbabwe, we wouldn’t have to encourage any Zimbabwean who feels they want to have issues to discuss to be free to contact us or give us suggestions may be orally or in writing with regards to what they would want to be done about the issues or complaints that they have. We believe that as NPRC at the end of the day peace-building affects everyone and if you say something that might have an effect of sticking emotions, which is what appears to be the case here, that would actually invite an inferno of emotions that might even lead to civil unrest in the country and it will be very unfortunate considering that we are already in elections where political emotions are running very high and one would want to believe that the whatever we do, whatever we say as Zimbabweans, political actors and non-political actors, we should always be mindful of the impact-end of effect it might have on the peacefulness of our beloved country,” he said.
Senior Counsel, Advocate Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is of the view that politicians must restrict their campaigns to the electorate.
“I think that politicians, which she is, must restrict their campaigns to voters. What she said in Geneva, if she had said that in Murehwa, Mutoko or Mupandawana, Zimbabweans would listen to that and on the basis of that they would decide to vote for her party or not. When someone goes abroad to go and says the same things, that constituency is not going to use those words to vote because they don’t vote in our elections, that constituency will use those words not to engage with our country and there I have a problem. Private citizens going there to speak is not a problem, but politicians looking for office when they do that the only logical conclusion is that they are doing that to invite people from abroad to assist them to change the government and the only way they can do that is through non-constitutional means since they don’t vote because there is only one way of changing a government, which is voting.”
Government has crafted the Patriotic Bill, which has since been passed by Parliament, and if it gets Presidential assent, the law will see individuals who demonise their own country being brought to book.