Opportune time for peaceful polls

HARARE - Zimbabwe's leadership has never had an opportunity as the current one to prove to the world that we can shape our own destiny.

The constitutional referendum set for next month gives President Robert Mugabe every reason to be believed in his messages for peaceful elections, that is if he stamps his foot on hardliners in Zanu PF.

Mugabe, has justifiably for long been accused of doing little to clamp down on political violence, often blamed on his party’s militia and war veterans.

There have been so many cases, epitomised by the run-up to the 2008 presidential run-off in which his opponent Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out at the last minute, citing massive violence against his supporters.

The short sleeve and long sleeve notorious amputations of perceived Zanu PF sell-outs mainly in the restive Mutoko area, Mashonaland East province, are some of the lowest points of our political intolerance.

Now, Mugabe has shown signs of mellowing, by taking up the cudgels to lead his colleagues and a weary nation in calling for peaceful elections.

There is every reason to support this call for peaceful elections and we must start with the referendum.

What we hope for is the cascading of the peace messages to the grassroots support where historically, information has either been filtered to suit a particular agenda or simply distorted.

There is no need to scupper the referendum by engaging in violence, especially when all the three parties in the inclusive government are in agreement.

Western countries that have slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions are also hoping for peaceful elections, including the referendum, which they see as the beginning to an end of a violent era.

The European Union meets on February 20 to review the sanctions but could defer their decision to probably after referendum to test our resolve to embrace peace.

Australia has said it will lift sanctions if Zimbabwe holds free elections.

We cannot wish away these promises.

Everyone sees an opportunity for this beautiful country to take a giant step towards emerging from its self-inflicted misery.

Zimbabwe can only move forward once we holistically embrace peace and espouse democratic tenets that promote dialogue and tolerance.

Surely, peace begins with me, peace begins with you and peace begins with us.

Mugabe once boasted of degrees in violence so it is time for him to boast of degrees in peace.

Indeed these would be coveted! - Staff Writer

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