While the three principals in the inclusive government were preaching peace and calling for an end to political violence on Friday, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo embarked on a different crusade the following day, encouraging his party supporters to retaliate when attacked by their political rivals.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube convened for an anti-violence meeting on Friday in Harare, and agreed that their respective parties desist from political violence.
But Khaya Moyo, who was guest of honour at a Zanu PF Midlands provincial conference, told delegates at Mkoba Teachers’ College in Gweru, barely 24 hours later, that Zanu PF supporters should not watch helplessly while their opponents harassed them.
“Let us desist from political violence and be peaceful. But if we are attacked, we are left with no choice, but to retaliate. We cannot afford to watch them as they attack us. We will also fight back,” said Khaya Moyo.
His utterances were received with murmurs of disapproval from the delegates. Other senior Zanu PF officials who attended the meeting included Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Midlands Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Jason Machaya, Environment and Natural Resources minister Francis Nhema and Zvishavane-Runde MP Larry Mavhima.
Khaya Moyo’s remarks were akin to encouraging his party’s followers to take the law into their own hands instead of seeking police intervention in the event they are provoked. Zanu PF supporters have previously disregarded calls against violence by President Mugabe.
Two months ago, the party’s supporters reportedly unleashed terror on their opponents outside Parliament during the opening of the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament, while President Mugabe was busy denouncing violence inside the august House.
Political violence is one of the issues that have led to the endless bickering in the coalition government.