President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the youths of his generation used the gun to liberate Zimbabwe from British rule but the contemporary youths need to use their vote to safeguard that independence.
He made the remarks while addressing youth and delegates who were attending the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day celebrations held at Robert Mugabe Square, in Harare on Monday.
He reiterated the ruling ZANU PF’s claims that the opposition, “a puppet of the West” intended to reverse the gains made since the attainment of independence hence the need to vote the ruling party “which has the nation’s interests at heart”.
Mnangagwa’s remarks spell a departure from the party’s position, however, in the sense that he believes that votes can influence the political trajectory of the Southern African country.
ZANU PF officials, living and the departed, including the late former President Robert Mugabe, used to say votes will not guarantee victory.
Mugabe is on record openly declaring with regards to elections that “the gun is mightier than the pen”.
In 2008, the late former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai defeated ZANU PFcandidate, Mugabe, but could not get to the State House as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) claimed that he had not attained the required 50 plus 1 per cent of the votes cast.
A rerun was held during which scores of opposition MDC members were assaulted and or killed by ZANU PF youths, War Veterans and members of the security sector, mainly the army.
However, by Mugabe’s own accidental admission which is on record, Tsvangirai probably won the first round of the 2008 presidential elections with 73%. ZEC took 5 weeks to announce the official result, now down to 47.9% for Tsvangirai.
There have been reports that the ruling ZANU PF connives with ZEC and other state departments to manipulate the electoral process to prevent the transfer of power to the opposition.
Zimbabwe is gearing towards March 26 by-elections and 2023 harmonised elections with political analysts doubtful that the ruling party will be prepared to handover power in the event that it loses the elections.