CHURCHES have raised alarm over the rise of political violence and intolerance as the country heads toward general elections.
Zimbabwe, which will be holding general elections next week is currently trapped in a fragile political environment.
Recently a supporter of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Tinashe Chitsunge was stoned to death in Glen View by suspected ruling party Zanu PF youths.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) called for a peaceful plebiscite without bloodshed.
“This year’s celebrations are of special significance as they are being held on the eve of the National Harmonized elections, on the 23rd of August, whereupon we will exercise our democratic right to choose our leaders.
“It is thus opportune to remind all Zimbabweans that political violence, violence against women in politics; hate speech, polarization, intolerance and hostility impede our nation building efforts and perpetuate gender inequalities.
“The ZCC notes with concern that the country remains highly polarized as a result of lack of political tolerance, unresolved issues of past hurts, growing poverty, corruption and a lack of a common shared vision amongst other social ills.
“In light of the aforementioned, the ZCC appeals to all political parties to contest the upcoming elections in a manner that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all the people. We urge them to uphold the ideals of justice, openness, the rule of law and promote unity. Let us respect our heroes’ efforts by ensuring that the democratic process takes place peacefully without bloodshed,” reads the statement.
Since its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has overseen elections marred by violence and political observers have predicted violence to rear its ugly head this year.
“Let the unified vision of Zimbabwe that they have all espoused be our touchstone for building a nation where we are all equal and enjoying the benefits of independence as one large united family during this election season.
“On this Heroes Day, let us come together as one nation, united in our gratitude for the sacrifices of our heroes. May their legacy inspire us to protect and nurture the gains of our independence so that all Zimbabweans enjoy the opportunities and blessings our motherland has to offer.
“It is our prayer that the forthcoming electoral process will not further splinter our already fragile environment, but will rather unite us Zimbabweans in the endeavor to build ‘The Zimbabwe We Want,” said ZCC further.