Comment: Leaders’ call for civility, restraint insincere


President Robert Mugabe’s call for civility and restraint among political parties will not change anything as long as his government fails to deal decisively with government officials sponsoring violence.

Youths aligned to Zanu PF outside Parliament on Tuesday unleashed an orgy of violence, attacking a police officer on duty in the process. Images of these brutes were aptly captured on our front page yesterday.

The Herald also captured the violent lot. Both papers captured one dreadlocked activist in the act. He is the face of unmitigated violence.

He, together with his colleagues, are currently walking free perhaps ready to launch another violent sortie.

Yesterday as party officials were going through much hand-wringing and some honest soul-searching, while political commentators and the media condemned this horrible act of violence, youth allegedly aligned to Zanu PF opened a new front in Highfield where they attempted to evict stall owners aligned to the opposition before storming Chitungwiza Town Council offices leaving workers scampering for cover.

On Tuesday in Parliament, President Mugabe spoke strongly against political violence urging MPs to preach the message of national healing and saying “NO” in unison to the scourge.

But much of what the President has said in the past and repeated on Tuesday frames violence in terms we have become more than accustomed to: that is a common nuisance which we can address by imploring the nation to sing in chorus that the practice must stop forthwith.

And yet, deeper still in our consciousness and in our souls, we know that this is not the panacea to the violence. Violence has been allowed to erupt around us because there is no political will to address the sad practice.

Thus, as our rulers were condemning violence this week, their sincerity in this regard was cast in doubt by the fiasco in Highfield.

There are politicians who have built institutions which persist in executing violence. Zanu PF will always struggle to launder its image of violent intents.

It is a party that has tolerated political violence to deal with its internal political dynamics and to liquidate external competition. A party which has in the past claimed to have “degrees in violence” cannot one day wake up one morning to conduct an orchestra delivering peace.

The self-confessed doyens of violence, despite all their words of grief and castigation, will remain culpable as long as violence is used as a tool to advance a political agenda.

If we are to believe Zanu PF’s newfound credentials as a peace-loving party, there must be concomitant action to demonstrate the commitment.

It is time for the party to help unmask the merchants of violence. There is nothing spontaneous about the current wave of violence. It has backers, organisers and sponsors who must be smoked out and prosecuted.

We believe that the violence has a lot to do with politicians who have in the past failed to win elections in the capital and are now hiring youths to intimidate and harass political opponents.

The police have spoken strongly against violence to the extent of labelling the MDC-T a violent party.

This zero tolerance to violence must be backed by tangible action. The media has given the police good leads.

We wait to hear when they would interview the activist who in broad daylight took a swing at a policeman at Parliament on Tuesday.