Dark cloud hangs over Zimbabwe

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Events of the past two weeks bear hallmarks of a dreadful black cloud that threatens the tranquil atmosphere that Zimbabwe has enjoyed in the past four years.

NewsDay Editorial

It began with the death of a Headlands fourth grader, 12-year-old Christpowers Maisiri, two weeks ago, believed to have been slain in a politically-motivated act of violence.

This was followed by volatile utterances by politicians from Zanu PF and the MDC-T — accusing each other of violence and provocation.

Then came the police whose findings of the cause of the Headlands death and subsequent action in Chegutu and Highfield have been viewed as evidence of the force’s allegiance to Zanu PF.

On Tuesday, the police unleashed its anti-riot squad to disrupt a constitutional outreach meeting meant to be addressed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Highfield.

The incident thickened the suspicion and animosity between Zimbabwe’s political protagonists.

MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said of the Highfield police clampdown: “It makes the possibility of a free and fair election difficult.” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said: “The election environment is not conducive.”

Tsvangirai has also come out to express his doubts that his colleague Mugabe and his party were sincere about their peace commitment.

He says he has lost faith in the police whom he accuses of encouraging a culture of impunity by doing nothing about perpetrators of political violence.

The MDC-T leader blames the police’s apparent unprofessional and partisan behaviour on his GNU colleague whom he said trivialised political violence, including even death.

“As national leaders, instead of trivialising the killing of a young boy, we must be saying to our supporters, ‘Never again should this ever happen in this country, not when we move towards the election, not at any time in future . . . That is what leadership demands of us; taking our responsibilities seriously,” Tsvangirai said in a message to the nation following the death of Christpowers.

In apparent reference to the boy’s death, Mugabe told thousands of his party supporters at his birthday party in Bindura at the weekend that the MDC-T was blaming any death, no matter how clearly natural or accidental, on Zanu PF.

He gave rather comical examples of causes of death, like being gored by bulls or falling off moving vehicles, that the MDC-T would seek to point a finger at his party. He drew hilarious laughter from his supporters who found it funny.

The MDC-T and the Maisiri family were unhappy because they did not see any joke or witticism to be drawn out of the tragic death of a young boy.

The message drawn from the events that are unfolding before our eyes is that the blood, pain and suffering of 2008 is a reality that we cannot close our eyes to — a warning to Sadc, Africa and the world that a stitch in time saves nine.