During his speech commemorating Zimbabwe’s independence on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave his assurance that the general elections that are set to take place later this year will be free and fair, but he also issued a warning to “rogue” civic society organizations. The southern African nation is scheduled to hold presidential and legislative elections, with the month of August being the most likely time for both, but no date has been set as of yet.
The Zimbabwean leader, who is 80 years old and running for re-election, asked his countrymen to “say no to violence, before, during, and after” the impending vote that will determine the country’s fate. In a speech that he gave at an event that was held to honor the 43rd anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain, he stated that “my government has put measures in place to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.”
The festivities took place in the quaint village of Mount Darwin, which is located approximately 155 kilometers (approximately 100 miles) northeast of the nation’s capital, Harare. In the past, Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party has been accused of adopting fear and intimidation tactics during elections by resorting to violence and intimidation against its opponents.
When opposition protesters who claimed there had been fraud in the 2018 elections marched through Harare’s streets, burning tires and tearing down street signs, the military met them and shot and killed five of the protesters. Mnangagwa also cautioned against “voices, foreign or local, including rogue non-governmental organizations” that spread “seeds of division and disharmony among us.”
At the beginning of February, the legislative body of the country passed a bill that makes it illegal for civil society organizations to participate in political activities. The new legislation gives the state the authority to make changes to the internal management and funding of nonprofit organizations, as well as intervene in the governance and operations of civil groups and charitable organizations.
Infractions of this statute carry a potential sentence of up to one year in prison, which has provoked widespread outrage among human rights organizations and members of the international community. It has been suggested that the administration is becoming more repressive toward political opponents. Mnangagwa won contentious elections in 2018, which his major opponent Nelson Chamisa maintains were rigged. The elections were held in Zimbabwe.
In the following polls, these two will go head-to-head against one another again. Mnangagwa, sometimes known as “the crocodile” due to his ruthlessness and cunning, succeeded Robert Mugabe as strongman ruler of Zimbabwe in 2017 following a military-led coup. As he works to alleviate entrenched poverty, put an end to persistent power shortages, and reduce severe unemployment, he must contend with widespread discontent.