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Opposition parties, CSOs promoting culture of violence

02 Mar 2018 at 10:49hrs | Views
Recent developments in the public domain in which MDC-T youths assaulted the party's co-Vice President Thokozani Khupe and Secretary General, Douglas Mwonzora and attempted to burn a hut in which the duo had sought refuge during the burial of Morgan Tsvangirai points to frightening levels of political intolerance. Prior to this incident, there had been poignant threats against MDC-T co-Vice President Elias Mudzuri against setting foot at the party's offices in Harare as an extension of the power struggle. Apparently, the youths and Khupe and Mwonzora are on opposites sides of a damaging power struggle in the opposition party spawned by the death of Tsvangirai.

If MDC-T youths can muster the audacity to assault their vice president and Secretary General at a solemn event like a funeral, what more can they do to their declared "enemies" in the form of ZANU PF members when the election campaigning season gets underway. One shudders to think of the degree of violence that will be unleashed by these youths.

On the other hand, Mthwakazi Republic Party and other self-acting social activists recently disrupted public consultative meetings by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Bulawayo and Lupane, arguing that the Commission should not include people of Shona-speaking origin.

Ironically, the Commission is mandated to promote national healing and cohesion against the background of alleged tribally-based disharmony and disturbances of the 1980s. So the effect of the disruptions of the Commission's consultative meetings by Mthwakazi Republic Party and the mercenary social activists is to perpetuate the very tribal politics and activism that continues to divide Zimbabweans.

The composition of the Government-appointed National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is reflective of the various interests in the country. So for Matabeleland based social activists and opposition actors to disrupt the Commission's outreach consultations on the basis that Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Lillian Chigwedere is Shona speaking is, actually in violation of the Constitution which calls upon all citizens to respect the country's ethnic diversity. Discrimination on the basis of tribe is surely against the country's laws.

Even as President Mnangagwa is preaching the gospel of peace and tolerance, actions by the opposition youths and self-styled social activists point to difficult violent times ahead. Opposition youths appear to be in the mood for confrontation and violence, to provide a basis for contesting a likely electoral loss to ZANU PF. The recent violence by commuter omnibus youths in Harare leading to the shooting of two people has been politicized by opposition parties in an attempt to portray the new dispensation as characterised by Police brutality.

The majority of law-abiding Zimbabweans expect law enforcement agents to stamp their authority in preventing and controlling violence of any kind, before and after the forthcoming elections. There is a world of difference between legitimate political activity, which President Mnangagwa has guaranteed, and criminal behavior like seeking to burn a political rival. The new dispensation has opened up the political space to legitimate political actors.

It is unfortunate that there may be attempts by some misguided elements to create a situation of lawlessness in the country to justify their calls for military intervention in Zimbabwe. The New Patriotic Front is on record calling on the African Union and SADC to intervene militarily in Zimbabwe, claiming that there is no constitutional order in the country. The new party, fronting the G40 cabal, has however been shamed by the AU which has endorsed the new dispensation.

The clarion call by the majority of Zimbabweans is that the era of too much focus on politics at the expense of economic development should be a bygone era. People now expect Government and well-meaning political actors to complement each other to resuscitate the economy and reclaim the country's place among the community of nations.  The Government of President Mnangagwa has set the ball rolling through engaging the West and all regional allies.

What the MDC-T youths did not realize is that their violence was witnessed by several representatives of Western embassies that had come to witness Tsvangirai's burial. They saw the real face of the MDC-T. When the material times comes, these embassies must tell the truth when it comes to political violence.

The new dispensation is calling on all actors in Zimbabwe to exercise tolerance and restraint. Political parties must entice votes on the basis of the appeal of their policies, not threats of violence.

Source - Bevan Musoko
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