Africa Moyo recently in HWANGE
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Huang Ping is confident that the prevailing atmosphere allows for the holding of free, fair and credible elections on July 30.
China, which recently escalated its relations with Zimbabwe to a higher level of comprehensive, strategic partnership and co-operation which will broaden the scope of their programmes and projects across all sectors of the economy, says it is happy with polls preparations so far despite a bomb attack that has so far claimed two people.
Ambassador Huang said this during the Hwange Thermal Power Station groundbreaking ceremony presided over by President Mnangagwa on Wednesday.
“As a brother of Zimbabwe, China is confident that Zimbabwe is capable of holding a free, fair and credible election and after that Zimbabwe will open a new chapter in its history to achieve its national rejuvenation,” said Ambassador Huang.
The new administration led by President Mnangagwa has invited 64 countries, groups and individuals to monitor the July 30 harmonised plebiscite.
This is a major departure from the previous regime of former President Robert Mugabe, which declared that local elections could only be observed by “friendly” organisations such as the regional bloc SADC, the African Union and the Pan African Parliament (PAP).
The United Nations and the European Union were barred from observing local elections since 2000 amid claims that they came with pre-conceived ideas of how they wanted the polls to be held.
Several election observer missions are already in the country and have also suggested that holding free and fair elections was possible.
The European Union observer team is one of the missions already criss-crossing the country to monitor the electoral playing field.
On Wednesday, the EU observer team was represented in Hwange for a political rally scheduled for the town’s stadium aimed at canvassing votes for ZANU-PF’s candidates.
The rally was eventually cancelled after the proposed guest of honour, ZANU-PF First Secretary and President Mnangagwa, reportedly requested to be excused to attend to some equally important pre-planned activities elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Huang slammed the political violence that gripped White City Stadium in Bulawayo last weekend.
President Mnangagwa was the target of a bomb attack immediately after finishing addressing thousands of party supporters.
The attack has claimed two lives so far while a few more remain in intensive care.
The attack was roundly condemned by international political and humanitarian groups.
Ambassador Huang said China stands “firmly in solidarity with the Zimbabwe people at a challenging time”, adding that the Asian tiger condemns the “political violence perpetrated” at White City Stadium.
“. . . and (we) wish to pay condolences to the people and friends who suffered . . .” said Ambassador Huang.
He said “nothing will derail” Zimbabwe’s desire for peace and economic development.
The Ambassador said the nation will “only emerge from this event stronger and more united” going forward.
Zimbabwe goes to the polls in the next 30 days to elect the President, National Assembly representatives, senators and councillors.
The election is seen as significant as it is the first since independence to be held when former leader President Mugabe is no longer the leader.
It also comes at a time when the new administration led by President Mnangagwa has come up with a cocktail of measures to revive the country that had been thrust on a cliff by the former leader.
The poll has also brought the biggest number of contestants for the position of President after 23 had their nomination papers accepted.
However, despite the huge number of political parties and candidates vying for public office, there seems to be consensus among most citizens that President Mnangagwa should be given a fresh mandate to allow him to finish the plans he has kick-started.
Responding to a story about President Mnangagwa going to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, which was carried by our sister paper The Herald, two commentators conceded that it was prudent to allow the incumbent a fresh mandate.
One of the commentators who only signed off as Itai said; “ED is the only candidate worth voting for. There will be a new real democracy in Zimbabwe.”
Another comment by Joseph Olonga said; “The future is bright. Thank you ED.”
Ambassador Huang also believes 2018 is a “significant” year in the country’s history.
Interestingly, about 55 representatives of contesting political parties pledged to uphold peace before, during and after the July 30 polls.
Home Affairs Minister and ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu signed on behalf of President Mnangagwa.
Drafted by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the peace pledge, is a code of conduct that binds presidential candidates and their parties to campaign peacefully.
It also promotes co-existence of the various political parties.
The peace pledge follows last month’s approval of an amendment to Zimbabwe’s electoral law by President Mnangagwa that sets a code of conduct for contestants.
The code seeks to “promote conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections and a climate of tolerance in which electioneering activity may take place without fear or coercion, intimidation or reprisals.”