In a speech on Independence Day on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged that the scheduled national elections later this year would be free and fair, but he also issued a warning to “rogue” civic society organisations.
The re-election-seeking 80-year-old leader asked Zimbabweans to “say no to violence, before, during, and after” the next election.
“My government has put measures in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections”, he said in a speech delivered at an event to mark 43 years of independence from Britain.
Mnangagwa also warned of “voices, foreign or local, inclusive of rogue NGOs” sowing “seeds of division and disharmony among us”.
A bill prohibiting civil society organisations from participating in politics was approved by the nation’s parliament at the beginning of February.
In accordance with the new legislation, the state has the authority to influence the management and funding of nonprofit organisations as well as their operations.
The law stipulates that violators run the possibility of up to a year in jail, which sparked outrage from rights groups and the general public.
There will be presidential and legislative elections in the southern African nation, which are scheduled for August but have not yet been given a specific date.
Mnangagwa celebrated Zimbabwe’s Independence Day in the little village of Mount Darwin, which is located around 155 kilometres northeast of Harare.
He prevailed in contested elections in 2018 that Nelson Chamisa, his primary opposition, claims were manipulated. The two will compete against one another once more in the next polls.
Mnangagwa, known as “the Crocodile” for his ruthless cunning, succeeded Robert Mugabe as the country’s strongman leader in 2017 following a military-led coup.
As he works to combat entrenched poverty, ongoing power outages, and debilitating unemployment, he is met with enormous anger.
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