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When Will African Politician Preach Peace? #WorldPeaceDay

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African peace and democracy still hangs on the line after more than 50 yrs of independence in most of the countries, but why where did Africans go wrong? It’s a question that many will not bother about when faced with many other questions that arise during every January of each year, tuition fees, medical covers, business targets, marketing and what a view but we all forget that all this things are thrown out of the window if there is no peace.  When do we see the worst peace interruptions in the African continent? It’s during the elections period.

Every African nation that has tried to hold a democratic elections in the last 4 decades has experienced a political violence, although this varies in the magnitude of the effects some boils down to decade long civil wars that deprive the citizens almost everything to the right to breath fresh air. We are all witness to the current crisis in Congo a situation that the world at large has decided to ignore, some argue that due to the large natural mineral deposits in the central African regions no one wishes that peace will come fast. For with it a strong government must be formed to control and regularise the trade.

All party primary elections which the leadership said were in fact a dress rehearsal of the forthcoming general elections as they were open to all members of the party likely to participate in the forthcoming general elections, were meant to enhance internal democracy. However these statements are only for the Media and PR exercises. At the back room its opens trade, of who brings what how many voters does one command. Who’s likely to hold on longer and what’s your political background.

Digging deeper into the root cause of instability in African, let’s have a look at the elections. The holding of elections in a peaceful environment starts with members of each political party finding each other especially after the primary elections meant to choose candidates for the pending harmonised elections. It is for this reason that the process be as far as possible so no one feels side stepped or otherwise, many African ruling parties ignore these factor and it time for the party leadership to gain campaign money for prosperous candidates for they support and mentions during political rallies. The citizens then only hope that the politicians and political parties will work for the constituents but we all forget that they bought their seats and have nothing to be afraid of as next time the same trading tools will be used to secure back their seats

A trio by the Zimbabwe government to change the trend was recently witnessed, addressing participants to the two-day national healing and reconciliation workshop in Harare on Tuesday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said it was the first time that the party had opened up the primaries to all members of the party and allowed as many candidates to compete in the primaries. He said from the onset, the party was aware that the whole process was going to be a mammoth task hence the challenges encountered.

He said the leadership and members of the party should therefore acknowledge that the entire process was a learning curve and as such had its teething problems. Cde Chiwenga who is also the party’s Second Secretary, said now that the primaries are over, party members should be united and campaign to win the elections as one family. The most important is bridging the gap between the political divide and acknowledging that despite same traditions and customs we can all hold different opinions and that doesn’t make is less equal.

He said the election campaign should be free of violence, deepen the spirit of tolerance given the fact that all those that are going to participate in the forthcoming elections are Zimbabweans. “You will be provoked in this campaign by our detractors and even by your fellow comrades but the spirit of tolerance must be within you”, said Cde Chiwenga.

This is the message that must be driven home by leaders of all political parties. It should not be left to the ruling party to preach peace and tolerance but it should be a collective effort of all politicians and political parties participating in the forthcoming elections. The fighting witnessed during the primaries of the different political parties should not be allowed during campaigns, elections and after elections. The healing and reconciliation as already alluded to, should start with the rank and file members of each political party. The police can only assist in maintaining a peaceful environment by bringing the perpetrators of violence to book.

However there is a fundamental truth about humans. Everybody who has ever been born has said or done something stupid. And this is a fundamental truth about a political campaign. If there is dirt in your past that is findable, somebody on your opponent’s team will find it. In this day and age, the dumbest thing a candidate can do is hope their past won’t surface. It will. Especially if it involves sex, money, bankruptcies, drunk driving, stupid tweets, dumb Facebook posts, a messy divorce, or insensitive comments about people of a certain race, religion or ethnic group.

Does that mean you should not run? No. It means that if you have dirty laundry in your past, you need to air it out on your terms. If you don’t your opponent will air it on their terms, and they won’t be near as charitable about your past as you are. Furthermore, your opponent will expose your stinky stuff at the worst possible time. Usually in the last month of a political campaign, throwing you completely off message at a time when voters are paying a lot of attention.

The onus is therefore on all leaders of politicians and political parties to ensure their members do not engage in violence. Whenever the elections dates have been announced, the election campaigns will soon start in earnest and we once again want to appeal to leaders of political parties to ensure the campaigns are peaceful. It should be the battle of the minds as different political parties try to woo voters as opposed to engaging in violence. All across Africa all elections are witnessed by international observers from across the globe and the challenge is to demonstrate to the international community that we have the capacity to hold free, fair and credible elections as a nation. To achieve this, the very first message that every politicians should carry is fairness and peace are paramount achieving a strong stable democracy.  

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