News that President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube are planning to have joint anti-violence rallies ahead of elections likely to be held later this year makes sweet music to the ears of a nation whose country’s name has become synonymous with violence.
For a long time now, Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters have regarded each other as enemies, and this has seen most elections characterised by untold violence and needless loss of lives.
Although the leaderships of the political parties have been preaching peace, the message seems not to have permeated to the grassroots and by holding joint peace campaigns, the clarion call could be just what the doctor ordered.
Instead of celebrating elections as a peaceful, democratic means of choosing leaders, Zimbabweans have come to fear polls due to extra-judicial killings.
One hopes the political gladiators are sincere and the country finds itself once again in the orbit of civilised nations.
They need to walk the talk.
Zanu PF’s Didymus Mutasa was quoted saying: “The purpose of the meetings will be to inform the greater public on the need to tolerate each other. This is an idea of all the parties in the inclusive government, so we will go to all the provinces with the same message of tolerance and co-existence.”
This should be acknowledged with a breath of fresh air and should not be just cheap talk and hot air.
The political players must make sure what they are preaching is implemented.
How they do it is lies squarely on their shoulders, but if they are genuine, renegades should be expelled.
Since the MDC has expressed reservations over the matter, especially in light of Zanu PF’s seeming reluctance to fulfil the letter and spirit of the GPA, we would want to urge the parties to first agree on all the modalities of the rallies if they occur, lest they end up just a one-party show, itself not a new phenomenon in the country’s murky political waters.
However, it remains to see how they will manage to get supporters in one ground despite their sharp political ideologies.
Restraint must be exercised during the rallies. It is not a secret that politicians often play to the gallery the moment they see crowds.
So these rallies must indeed be about peace and tolerance, rather than grandstanding.
Let’s hope the rallies will indeed take place and the peace message comes to fruition.