No to electoral and political violence: Chief Mathema

Chief Mathema of Gwanda has urged Zimbabweans not to engage in political violence, as the country prepares for national elections slated for next year.

Zimbabwe’s elections have been among the most polarised in recent history, with physical attacks, intimidation, threats, and even murder taking place, with fears that the upcoming polls in 2023 might also be violent.

Chief Mathema stated that fear of violence is causing growing concern in communities as the 2023 election approaches seeing that some rural areas such as Matobo, Insiza and recently Binga which held by-elections experienced political violence.

“Next year we have elections, please, may we be a united nation and speak with one voice. Let’s all preach peace for the benefit of everyone and for the benefit of the generations that are going to come after us,” the chief said.

“Let’s make it a point to have free and fair elections because each year we have elections, some people are beaten and become divided and that, as chiefs it gives us a lot of problems because we are left with the task of uniting people after everyone else who came to your area to campaign would have left.”

In addition, the chief urged other traditional leaders to join him in his clarion call. “We don’t encourage violence, please be with us, assist us as the traditional leadership so that we also preach peace and you also preach peace,” Chief Mathema said.

“Let’s be in one basket on that and I think it is going to pay some dividends for us.”

Chief Mathema advised voters to vote for enlightened individuals who understand how to raise and debate issues.

“Send MPs who are going to add a voice in Parliament. Look for people who are educated enough to raise issues when they are in the August house,” he said, claiming some elected representatives were “placeholders” who went to “sleep in Parliament.”

“Last week we saw the representatives at the Senate sleeping. Half of the house was asleep and I was in shock.”

Chief Mathema urged people to abandon vices such as tribalism, which contributed to violence because almost everyone was related to each other in some way.

“We are born from one another as people here in Zimbabwe. No one can stand up and say they didn’t have a Shona relative. No one who is Ndebele can say they have no Shona niece or grandchild. So why are we fighting?” he asked.

“Let’s not let a few people divide us because those who do that are at the top, who throw bombs and make more noise than us. If they make noise, why are we also swept in that tide? Let’s not forget who we are, where we are going and where we are coming from.”

As a parting shot, Chief Mathema emphasised that violence must not be acceptable in Zimbabwe.

“Let’s vote in peace!  When one is asking for someone’s hand in love, they don’t go carrying a thorn tree to them. Whoever encourages you to be violent, bury them in your ballot box,” he emphasised.

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