With national elections expected to be held sometime this year, many Zimbabweans fear the resurgence of political violence that saw over 200 people losing their lives in the disputed 2008 poll.
To help deal with the culture of violence that has affected the country’s elections over the years, local leaders of political parties in the coalition government meeting in Gweru on Monday underscored the need for the adoption of a code of conduct for political parties to stem politically-motivated violence.
Speaking during an inter-party meeting to raise awareness about the code of conduct for political parties, provincial leaders from the three parties in the unity government hailed the code of conduct but said political will is needed to ensure people at the grassroots level co-exist and tolerate their different political beliefs.
Provincial chairperson Ndumo Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said as the code of conduct had been agreed to by the unity government principals, his party endorses the document.
Mr. Moyo said it is important for ordinary Zimbabweans to abide by the principles of the document as this would help to stop politically motivated violence.
The three political parties in the coalition government and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) produced the code of conduct. Although the document was launched in November 2011, the principals are still to append their signatures to it.
Lillian Timveos, provincial chairperson of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC said before the formation of multi-party provincial committees under JOMIC, even senior members of the three political parties used to view each other as enemies.
However, she said they are now able to work together in various activities to promote peace. But this is not the case at the grassroots level.
Timveos expressed the hope that the same spirit spills over to the grassroots level.
Zanu PF’s provincial secretary for administration, Francis Chikwira says his party is also committed to the promotion of peace but adds there are some aspects in the code of conduct that his party wants revised.
Some people who attended the meeting said given the impending elections, it is important for political parties to spread the message of peace to their supporters, particularly those in rural areas as this is where political violence often occurs.
Programs officer Cynthia Mawema of JOMIC said Monday’s meeting was one of many being held across the country to help local political structures raise awareness about the code of conduct and the need for peace before, during and after elections.
Jomic also used the same meeting to introduce to members of the public a song by various Zimbabwean artists urging the nation to desist from political violence.