Harare — As the country braces for crunch elections this year, opposition MDC-T Vice President, Nelson Chamisa has called for peace among Zimbabweans, saying members of the ruling Zanu PF party were not enemies but fellow compatriots.
In a statement issued on New Year's Day, Chamisa said the politics of hate had no place in a free and democratic Zimbabwe, adding that the ruling party and the opposition were on opposite sides of one country.
"My politics is not politics of hatred and enmity. I relate with my comrades the same way I relate with my fellow comrades in Zanu PF. They are not enemies but fellow Zimbabweans who see things differently," he said.
Zimbabwe's political landscape has been characterized by violence, with the opposition MDC-T especially on the receiving end of State-sponsored aggression over the past two decades.
The party says hundreds of its activists have resultantly been killed while thousands of others were maimed.
Ironically, Chamisa almost died when he was brutally attacked by unknown assailants believed to be State security agents at the Harare International airport as he returned from a trip abroad.
In the run-up to the June 2008 elections, several MDC-T supporters were killed, and hundreds forced to flee their homes which were burned down by known Zanu PF supporters in a violent election campaign which followed then President Robert Mugabe's narrow defeat by Morgan Tsvangirai, forcing a re-run. No one was arrested over the brutal crackdown
Tsvangirai had to withdraw from the race citing violence against his supporters leaving Mugabe to run a lone race. The two later formed a government of national unity with Welshman Ncube, which ushered in some semblance of economic and political stability.
Even so, Chamisa, a devout Christian and trained pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission, said he was willing to forgive, saying Zimbabweans should unite despite their political differences and not fight on the basis of personalities.
"Our God is a God of love, peace, unity and forgiveness. God blesses the united, the peaceful, the forgiving and the loving. Teams win on the foundations of focus, strategic thinking, truth, unity and love."
He however, said Zimbabweans should engage in robust national debate on critical issues and should be given equal opportunities to share ideas that help shape the nation.
"Different political parties and politicians from different shades of political persuasions must be on public media, ZBC TV and radio to offer us their menu of policies and cocktail of ideas to enable citizens to make informed choices."
The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Robert Mugabe after a military coup, has promised free, fair and peaceful elections, which are expected in seven months' time.