Mugabe calls for an end to political violence

Zimbabwe’s president said on Wednesday that political violence must be “buried in the past” to move the nation toward free and unhindered elections.

In a rare departure from his usual finger-pointing at opponents and critics, President Robert Mugabe, addressing celebrations marking 32 years of independence on Wednesday, acknowledged violence and intimidation have long blighted campaigning.

He said he asked politicians vying for office to look back at how “we have done wrong to our people” through violence and “fighting among ourselves”.

Mugabe’s party militants and loyalists in the military and police have been blamed for much of the violence and political intimidation that has plagued elections since 2000.

“We must now take absolute care and caution and ensure the fights of yesterday are buried in the past,” he said.

Mugabe (88), in a conciliatory and often faltering address of 50 minutes — less than his usual, fiery 90-minute public speeches — said voters should be allowed to join and freely vote for the party of their choice.

“All fights, all struggles that were violent should not be allowed, he said. Political party membership “should never be forced”.

“We organise ourselves on the basis of freedom of choice, belonging to a party of choice and freely voting for that party of choice.”

Mugabe’s party has frequently been criticised for coercing the electorate to support it and using emergency food aid as a political weapon to garner votes.

Bob deviates from health reports
Mugabe did not refer to the latest claims on his ailing health. He returned on Thursday from Singapore, where he received medical treatment last year.

Disputed and violence-ridden elections in 2008 led to a power-sharing coalition with former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, brokered by regional mediators the following year.

Mugabe said on Thursday he was pleased to see Tsvangirai — now the prime minister — and coalition leaders at the packed 60000-seat Chinese-built stadium for the independence day celebrations, parades and sports.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party had expressed concern over the focus of Thursday’s celebrations on Mugabe’s policies of black empowerment and the proposed seizures of 51% of foreign and white-owned businesses.

Tsvangirai in his anniversary message on Tuesday described that theme as “repugnant” and likely to again scare off much-needed investment.

He said fighters who died to end Britain’s colonial rule in 1980 “will only be proud of us if we bring back the noise in our silent factories,” attract investment and create jobs and economic growth.

Mugabe said crowd organisers had asked not to wear party symbols, and that all coalition partners had a responsibility to guarantee peace and security so as to safeguard future development goals.

“We also say to you that your responsibility is not only to listen to us, but also to do what we bid you to do,” he said to the attentive crowd. — Sapa-AP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world