THE majority of Zimbabweans are unhappy with the decline in their well-being under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration and are unlikely to retain him for a second term in the 2023 elections, a local non-governmental organisation has claimed in a report.
In its latest report on organised violence and torture (OVT) and elections in Zimbabwe, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) also said the military should be confined to the barracks ahead of the elections while government officials should not fan hate speech to avoid a bloodbath.
Zimbabwe goes for elections in 2023 amid concerns of growing poverty, unemployment, cash shortages among other problems.
“Notwithstanding the COVID-19 crisis, the general populace has seen a significant decline in their well-being, a condition for which they may well hold the current government responsible, and likely to support it again in a poll,” RAU said.
“These are the conditions that increase the probability of the return of OVT, a probability reflected in the warlike rhetoric of Zanu PF supporters. Hence, we make a number of recommendations.”
The report noted that Mnangagwa “scrapped through” a narrow victory in 2018, the ruling party would likely stop at nothing to win the 2023 elections, raising the possibility of violence.
“As we have pointed out, OVT can reach the threshold of crimes against humanity, and it is evident that OVT reaches this threshold when the probability of the ruling party losing political power is very high, especially over the hold on the presidency,” the report read.
“It is critical that the pre-election period before 2023 is characterised by a total absence of hate speech, especially by members of the government, and that all persons making such statements are charged under sections 37(1)(c) and 42(2) of the Criminal Code.
“There must be no deployment of members of the ZNA [Zimbabwe National Army] into the civilian space outside of conditions that approximate a state of public emergency, as indicated in section 113 of the Constitution, and, if deployed, the provisions of section 214 of the Constitution be strictly adhered to, with full public disclosure.”
The report said a recent study looking at violence in several Sadc countries governed by former liberation movements showed that Zimbabwe was the most violent.
The violence was significantly related to elections.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, however, dismissed claims that his party was failing to address the plight of the people, saying anyone saying that was not following developments on the ground.
“I am not sure what they are talking about,” Khaya Moyo said.
“They are not following the implementation of our manifesto. There are lots of projects and programmes that have been implemented.
“We are not in 2023, we are only in 2021 and the assessment can only be done before the end of the next election. Why do they throw away the two years remaining? You can’t conclude when we have two more years to go.”
A report by the Mass Public Opinion Institute last week gave Mnangagwa a 33% lead in the 2023 polls ahead of the MDC Alliance’s 25%, but pointed out that Zimbabweans were not happy with the direction the country was taking under Mnangagwa.