As the country gravitates towards watershed elections next year, there should be zero tolerance to violence.
President Robert Mugabe has already indicated his eagerness to have the polls next March.
Finance minister Tendai Biti on Monday could not have put it any better when he concluded electoral violence was Zimbabwe’s biggest undoing threatening the country’s economic restoration and political gains.
The MDC-T secretary-general was spot-on when he said Zimbabwe had never enjoyed even 10 years of peace since Independence 32 years ago because of political violence and the accompanying economic hardships.
Unless action was taken to deal with the violence, he said, Zimbabwe could easily slide back to the dark political and economic past. While Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have on various platforms called for an end to violence, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears; this because of their blind party followers.
Critics contend that the absence of political will by some parties in the coalition government to move from a violence-inspired to a new knowledge-based political approach is a threat to the holding of free and fair elections.
While we applaud calls by the respective political parties to end political violence, it seems their supporters have failed to walk the talk and with elections looming, the ominous signs of hostility towards each other are beginning to show.
It is in this context that we believe political leaders should be at the forefront in exercising restraint in the run-up to elections.
We implore the security forces to be as impartial as possible and deal with any cases of political violence without fear or favour.
On the other hand, the government must ensure the police force is adequately resourced to enable it to carry out its mandate.
The barbaric political violence of 2008 should never be repeated. While Mugabe’s recent utterances at the burial of the late Stan Mudenge that Zimbabweans must be tolerant of each other’s views to allow for a free vote in general elections, was a breath of fresh air, more is needed from political leaders.
In the same vein, we urge politicians to desist from making statements that may incite violence.
A case in point being the alleged utterances by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa that the military would stage a coup if Tsvangirai won the next presidential poll.
The importance of a peaceful election cannot be overstated; it will help underwrite the economic growth we have experienced over the past few years and will show Zimbabwe’s commitment to peace and stability. While the physical aspect of violence can be attended to at various hospitals dotted around the country, it may haunt victims forever. It’s time we co-existed as a people despite different political views.
Let us shun violence in all its manifestations and help build a better Zimbabwe.