Comment: Zimbabwe’s hypocrites of peace

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Once again President Robert Mugabe was yesterday preaching peace.

The day before, Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister, was preaching the same message — peace and love for one another.

The violence that has claimed hundreds of lives and brought misery to thousands others in the past decade has been over none other but these two men, President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai — as leaders of their political parties.

There is no doubt, supporters of Zanu PF and MDC-T bear allegiance to these two men and, save for non-political criminal elements masquerading as party activists, the real political activists would go by what their leaders bid them.

“We have to unite in what we do and unite in love and work together. We don’t want fists, no violence no clashes, not today and in days to come,” President Mugabe said Monday.

How then can we explain the violence that has become part of life in Mbare, Budiriro, Highfield and Epworth –that is just in Harare?

Who is directing the mayhem if party leaders publicly denounce violence?

An explanation could either be that the leaders preach peace by day and go to arm their hoodlums in the dark of night or that the leaders no longer have control over their supporters.

The involvement and tacit complicity of state security agents plays a key role in the violence that Zimbabweans have unnecessarily had to endure for years.

Zimbabwe has enough security apparatus to stem violence at any level, but what obtains is that the police simply choose to turn a blind eye when victims are members of parties that their masters have publicly condemned.

Even as President Mugabe “preached” peace yesterday, scores of people streamed into the National Sports Stadium for the Independence celebrations clad in Zanu PF party regalia – right under the noses of our police. That is despite the fact that party regalia is banned at national events.

Master of ceremony Webster Shamu, the Information minister, did not help matters by making derogatory references to Tsvangirai while punctuating the programme with Zanu PF jingles, clearly provocative to the party’s partners in the inclusive government.

So, even the multitudes of MDC-T supporters who filled the stadium (for the soccer match) witnessed their leader being scorned, humiliated and emotionally assaulted while he sat there, defenceless among his assailants.

What peace then was the President preaching when his key ally in the inclusive government was being harassed and abused right in front of him?

“We are a peaceful people,” the President said. “So we should both collectively and singularly pledge ourselves to achieving both a political and economic peaceful environment.”

For his part Tsvangirai told his supporters at a recent party event in Masvingo: “Why do you fight here when I can sit with Mugabe every Monday?

You all know that I was beaten before and often Mugabe laughs at me openly saying ‘chakadashurwa’ (he was thoroughly beaten) but I don’t fight him back when I meet him for Cabinet meetings. That spirit must also go down to grassroots levels.”

So much for our political leaders and their conviction to peaceful coexistence and a violence-free country.