HARARE – The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has called on President Robert Mugabe (pictured) to use his considerable influence to end the serious spike in political violence.
This comes amid escalating concerns over inter and intra-party violence ahead of 2018 elections.
ZPP’s calls come as Mugabe kicks off his “Meet the Youth” rallies in Marondera on Friday.
The rally is seen as a launch of his campaign for next year’s polls.
The countrywide rallies come amid power contestations that have degenerated into politically-motivated violence, the most recent being the physical confrontations involving youths and war veterans in Bulawayo a week ago.
“ZPP is worried that tensions in political parties and between political parties may spill into the 2018 elections and therefore appeals to the head of State and government to use the impending 10 rallies as a platform to preach peace and rein-in violent party supporters,” the faith-based rights group said in a statement.
“We have already seen intra-party violence within the ruling party spiralling out of control and resulting in the stabbing of an opposition party supporter, Ashley Mdutshwa in Chiwundura constituency last week.
“The ZPP is of the view that President Mugabe is an integral player in the fight against political violence.”
The audience of these rallies is young people who have been responsible for most of the electoral violence the country has witnessed, the rights group said.
“The rallies will provide the president the platform to condemn the involvement of young people in acts of political violence,” it said, adding “in the true spirit of tolerance and creating a conducive environment for polls, ZPP also believes a toning down of hate language has the potential of eliminating some triggers for political violence.”
“The Constitution provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association and it is ZPP’s hope that citizens will not be forced to attend and in some instances will not be made to abandon their livelihood activities to attend these rallies.”