Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who is the leading presidential contender in the 30 July elections, says there could be more tension directed at the opposition following Saturday’s bomb attack that seemed to be aimed at his main rival Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“It shows you that things can turn ugly, it has been ugly in the past and over the past 38 years we have had disputed elections, violent elections, state-sponsored violence and we are likely to see that ugly feature rearing its head once more,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Zimbabweans are vulnerable … the electorate is vulnerable, political players like myself are vulnerable. I have scars on account of political violence in the past, so it’s something we have budgeted for,” he said.
Mnangagwa and his lieutenants have said the elections are going ahead as scheduled, despite the attack.
Chamisa’s sentiments were echoed by activist McDonald Lewanika.
“It definitely increases the levels of vulnerability and introduces an intractable fear into the electoral process. This may well be the intention of the perpetrators who do not have to do repeat attacks on the logic of staging one attack to scare thousands,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The real danger of such events is that they can take attention away from the democratic process and democratic imperative in favor of safety, security and stability imperatives,” he said.
However, while Chamisa sees free and fair polls as a “remote possibility”, Lewanika said although the political environment was now tainted, it might still be possible to hold credible polls if the opposition’s demands for fairness, such as equal access to state media and greater transparency from the electoral commission, were met.