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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday railed against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accusing them of sowing seeds of discontent in the country ahead of general elections expected later this year.
Mnangagwa was addressing thousands pf people during the main Independence Day celebrations held in Mt Darwin, Mashonaland Central province.
“As the harmonised general elections draw nearer, I call on the nation to remain vigilant and protect our hard-won Independence. No voices, foreign or local, inclusive of rogue NGOs, should sow seeds of division and disharmony among us. Unity and peace should be preached in our families, churches and communities. Dialogue and tolerance have been the hallmark of the Second Republic,” Mnangagwa said.
His statements follow a plot by Zanu PF to use its parliamentary majority to railroad the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVOs) Bill to regulate the operations of NGOs.
Government has often accused NGOs of pushing a regime change agenda.
Critics, however, said the relentless attack on NGOs is an attempt to close the democratic space and silence critics for exposing corruption and mis-governance.
Mnangagwa, who has been endorsed as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate, acknowledged the presence of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the independence celebrations.
Promising to deliver a free and fair election, Mnangagwa said: “My government has put measures in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections.”
Addressing a largely unresponsive crowd, he continued: “We must all say: No to violence, before, during and after elections. As one people, united under one national flag, let us defend and entrench our democracy, which was brought about by the blood, sweat and tears of the vast people of Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans must vote to “defend the country from outside forces.”
“As we go to elections, let us all affirm this with our vote and declare that Zimbabwe shall forever be free. Zimbabwe shall forever be sovereign. Zimbabwe shall forever be independent.”
Critics and the opposition have predicted a disputed election citing lack of reforms and flawed electoral processes, among other impediments. _*NewsDay*_