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The benefits of peaceful, democratic, free and fair elections
Zimbabwe Libarators Platform (ZLP)
February 10, 2005

Election day, March 31 will be a political milestone in the history of Zimbabwe considering the high stakes involved and the controversy surrounding the parliamentary elections held in 2000.

First, the last parliamentary and presidential elections were marred by violence, rape, intimidation and rigging. The consequences, which include political tension, economic decline, hyperinflation, record unemployment shortage of basic commodities, diplomatic isolation etc, are still haunting the country today. The unplanned, chaotic and bloody land invasions as a ZANU PF election campaign strategy became the root cause of all the problems that followed.

Secondly, since the last elections, government has been enacting repressive legislation, like POSA, AIPPA, Broadcasting Services Act, Criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act and the NGO Bill/Act, whose impact on the country was/is devastating. Government has been violating human rights and freedoms with impunity, applying the law selectively, curbing operations of private media practitioners, closing newspapers, denying opposition parties access to the public media as well as narrowing political space.

With the adoption of the Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections by the SADC summit in August 2004 in Mauritius, the question of legitimising the results of the March 31 elections becomes critical If the results were not recognised by SADC, the African Union and the rest of the worid, the status quo would remain. However, if everybody declared the results free and fair, Zimbabwe would be on the road to resolving its socio-economic, political and humanitarian crisis.

What wouid be the benefits of peaceful, democratic, free and fair elections? The benefits wouid be far-reaching and very attractive:

  • Political tolerance and stability which would create the basis for economic, social and cultural development.
  • End of diplomatic and political isolation, with many invaluable benefits.
  • Attraction of foreign investment leading to the creation of jobs and foreign currency inflows.
  • Tourism, boom which would generate much needed foreign currency.
  • Economic regeneration would create employment, increase exports and trade.
  • Bilateral and multilateral cultural exchanges (information, science. technology, education, research, films etc).
  • Financial, humanitarian and other forms of foreign aid inflows (eg HIV/AIDS drugs and victims' sustenance, loans, debt relief, grants etc).
  • Revival of increased agricultural production and high productivity.
  • Revival of infrastructura! development (roads, dams. boreholes, hospitals, schools, electricity generation facilities, houses etc).
  • Reversal of brain drain and return of Zimbabweans to develop their country.
  • Peace would prevail. Much more could be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.
  • Innovation, scientific inventions, research and so on.
  • Expansion of mass media houses and abundant sources of information.

Understandably, politicians fight for political power. But in the process. they should be guided and driven by people's aspirations, expectations. dreams, needs and wants. Like other people the world over, Zimbabweans expect the above benefits for they country, themselves and for posterity.

The Zimbabwe Liberators Platform wouid like to appeal to government to create a conducive environment for peaceful, democratic, free and fair elections. Political parties also bear a heavy responsibility to desist from violence or from inciting violence.

Lastly, political supporters need to be reminded that the victims of political rivalries between ZAPU and ZANU in the 1960s. 1970s and 1980s. and between ZANU PF and MDC (2000-2004), died in vain. Their families or the country did not benefit from their deaths. Do not be used by politicians to kill or maim your neighbour. You need her/him more than the politician. Preach peace and pursue it.

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