Mashudu Netsianda, Deputy News Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has urged citizens to shun violence as the country gets into election campaign mode ahead of harmonised elections and implored Zanu-PF members to remain peaceful, as the ruling party conducts its primary elections this weekend.
The President said Zimbabweans are a peace-loving people and should always uphold peace, avoiding incidents of violence during election campaigns.
He made the remarks soon after his arrival in Bulawayo yesterday evening for the 2023 National Chiefs’ Conference, which he will officially open today at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre.
Zanu-PF primary elections are slated for Saturday as the revolutionary party girds its loins ahead of this year’s elections with the revolutionary party eyeing five million votes to ensure a resounding victory.
A record number of candidates running into thousands have submitted their CVs to stand in for the ruling party in the forthcoming elections with a blend of old and new faces — in a display of the universal popularity of Zanu-PF.
Aspiring candidates will be vying for 210 constituencies, 1 970 wards, 60 senatorial, 60 women’s quota and 10 youth quota seats.
The party has deployed Politburo members in various provinces to supervise the election process.
The deployments are: Bulawayo, Cde Tshinga Dube; Harare, Cde Charles Tavengwa; Manicaland, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; Mashonaland, Central Cde Kenneth Musanhi; Mashonaland East, Cde Mike Bimha; Mashonaland West, Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa; Masvingo, Cde Lovemore Matuke; Matabeleland North, Cde Obert Mpofu; Matabeleland South, Cde Richard Ndlovu and Midlands, Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
The Politburo members will also be assisted by commissioners who have also been deployed.
Addressing scores of Zanu-PF supporters who had gathered at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport to welcome him, President Mnangagwa said he was happy with the manner in which party members were handling themselves ahead of the primaries.
“Our party, Zanu-PF will be conducting primary elections this weekend. So far, I am told by the (Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial) chairman (Cde Jabulani Sibanda) that everything is happening peacefully,” he said.
“We don’t want violence and we must act peacefully because we are going to win resoundingly in the harmonised elections. You may be provoked by the opposition, just say, ‘no to violence’ and we must vote for our party.”
The President also implored party members to take advantage of the ongoing Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) final mobile voter registration blitz, to register to vote.
“There is a window now for you to register to vote and please do so. Thank you very much for coming to welcome me and I feel very, very humbled by your coming to receive me,” he said.
The biometric voter registration exercise, which coincides with the Civil Registry Department’s mobile issuance of national documents programme also targeting potential voters, started on Sunday and will run until March 21.
The electoral commission has also deployed voter educators to sensitise the public of their right to vote. For one to participate in the electoral processes, they should be 18 years old, and possess a national identity card (metal, plastic, or waiting pass with the holder’s picture when going to register.
A valid Zimbabwean passport can also be presented as an alternative to ID cards and they should produce proof of residence. The commission has said persons whose national IDs are inscribed “ALIEN” and eligible to register should have long birth certificates indicating where they were born.
ZEC has listed 4 474 centres where citizens who are eligible to vote can visit to register during the mobile biometric voter registration programme.
President Mnangagwa is today expected to officiate at the 2023 National Chiefs Conference which is being attended by more than 800 traditional leaders from across the country.
The event is running under the theme: “Firm Cultural Foundation for Community Development.”
For the first time, the conference is attended by headmen as Government moves to ensure its programmes cascade to all the corners of the country.