IT is pleasing to note that observers from different countries have begun arriving ahead of harmonised elections set to be held by July 31 this year. This exposes wild claims by people from some quarters that the Government was not committed to free and fair elections.
The election date is still to be proclaimed, but the Government has since opened the doors to observers.
The main opposition MDC-T, in its various guises, has since hit the ground running and is freely holding rallies countrywide.
We hope the opposition, if it loses the coming elections as is highly expected, will have the magnanimity to congratulate the victor and let the country move on in peace.
First to arrive last week was a team from Sadc that was in Zimbabwe for a whole week, meeting different stakeholders.
And today, for the first time in 16 years, a team from the European Union is expected in Harare to assess the environment ahead of the harmonised elections.
We are encouraged by statements made by the Sadc delegation, and also the United Nations, who all expressed satisfaction with Government’s commitment to, and preparations for the harmonised elections.
They have noted without prejudice that there was no political violence; and the fact that their observations are first hand, and not what is gleaned from newspapers, or derived from the submissions of any one political group, is good.
We should, however, not lose sight of the possibility that the arrival of the observers may herald a dramatic shift in political temperatures.
Some groups or forces that have been making baseless claims, alleging that electoral reforms are “cosmetic and political violence has escalated” might try stage-managed violence in attempts to justify their claims.
Previous elections have shown that detractors will stop at nothing to tarnish the country’s image.
The observers should also remember that even though President Mnangagwa, the Government and the police have declared zero tolerance to political violence; it is technically impossible for the State to completely eradicate disparate inter or intra-party skirmishes.
A case in point being a tussle between two people or groups from rival parties, who meet each other while pasting posters or wearing campaign t-shirts.
Such clashes that may occur at individual level are clearly beyond the control of the State if the police are not in the vicinity.
Thus, there is need for greater observer discretion where political violence is concerned, to separate between institutionalised and individual commotion.
We, however, do not doubt the professionalism or impartiality of the observers, it is quite possible that they may have come across similar situations in their own countries.
Let’s hope all stakeholders will maintain the maturity they have shown to date, by not playing to the gallery, but paying heed to the electorate.