By Br. Alfonce Kugwa and Sr. Cynthia Mgwena CPS
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) today, 27 July 2018 held a pre-election press conference aimed at encouraging all eligible Zimbabweans to go and vote in the forthcoming harmonized elections scheduled to take place on Monday 30 July 2018.
The Chairman of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ), Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro read the statement which encourages upholding of peace during the election process. This follows the Conference’s well received Pastoral Letter on election titled “Opening a new door; the July 2018 elections and beyond published on 29 June 2018.”
Bishop Nyandoro acknowledged that the pre-election period has been relatively peaceful although there were few incidents of open violence. He pointed out that it was impressive to see political parties campaigning freely all over the country.
“All political parties were preaching the message of peace and tolerance. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is congratulated for the maiden Bio-metric Voters’ Roll which is less controversial. The Electoral Act gazetted recently is a milestone for Zimbabwe only if it is followed and implemented. It is an opportunity for ZEC to prove its independence,” said Bishop Nyandoro.
The Bishop further commended ZEC’s use of electronic media for voter education as well as door to door and mass voter education conducted in churches or other public gatherings as very helpful. However, Bishop Nyandoro stated that the church was not impressed by the pre-election scenarios which include the fact that primary elections held by political parties were not very peaceful and gender sensitive which deprived citizens of their democratic choices. He pointed out that traditional leaders should be leaders for everybody and not be selective or partisan as stated in Section 281 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution.
He raised concern that political parties did not adequately plan and reflect on how best to maintain peace and respect human life and dignity before taking their regalia to communities. He bemoaned the scant voter education, especially in remote and marginalised areas and unequal access of political parties to the public. According to Bishop Nyandoro, the electorate have the right to hear from all political parties in order to make their own choices.
However, the Bishop said despite all challenges faced in the pre-election period, people were encouraged to go and vote on 30 July 2018.
The Press Conference was attended by the ZCBC Secretary General, Fr. Fradereck Chiromba, Bishop Emeritus Germano Grachane from the Diocese of Nacala, Mozambique, IMBISA representatives who are in the country to observe the elections and ZCBC funding partners.