Stop the mindless violence in Harare

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The eruption of violence in some parts of Harare blamed on Zanu PF supporters does not put the ruling party in good light, hardly a week after it won five parliamentary seats in a one-sided election.

Zanu PF candidates romped to victory virtually unchallenged after MDC formations pulled out of the June 10 by-elections demanding electoral reforms.

The elections were largely peaceful because Zanu PF’s traditional rivals did not campaign.

Therefore, the reports of Zanu PF supporters chasing away political opponents from open spaces, car parks and home industries in Harare are mind-boggling.

The social misfits are also reportedly attacking people perceived to have supported independent candidates during the polls as they claim the ruling party is now in charge of the capital after it took over the five seats.

According to a report we carried yesterday, five supporters of independent candidate Herman Karimakwenda were allegedly beaten by Zanu PF supporters who invaded their car park business in Dzivarasekwa on Monday.

Some of the alleged perpetrators such as Tapiwa Hungwe, identified as the son of winning MP Omega Hungwe, have been singled out by their victims and police should be seen acting on the lawlessness.

Police inaction is particularly worrying because similar attacks were allowed to go unchecked in Hurungwe West where losing candidate Temba Mliswa’s supporters were hounded for standing by him.

The merchants of violence are emboldened when law enforcement agents become spectators as was the case in Hurungwe.

Impressionable youths begin to believe that they are above the law when they are allowed to act with impunity to achieve a certain political goal.

The recent arrests of Zanu PF youth leaders accused of extorting money from housing co-operatives in Harare using First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name shows a worrying tendency by law enforcement agents to be spectators when people belonging to a certain formation commit crime.

Police tend to only act against Zanu PF members that violate the law when they fall out of favour with the system such as the case with Harare chairperson Godwin Gomwe and his alleged accomplices.

Human rights groups have raised a red flag about Zanu PF members now using terror tactics to ensure that party supporters benefit from the ongoing allocation of vending stalls in Harare.

A shadowy group going by the name Queen of Grace ZimAsset Trust is allegedly working to ensure Zanu PF members get preference to choose a suitable area they would want to operate from after government issued a directive to vendors to leave undesignated areas in urban centres.

The youths claim to be linked to the First Lady and again with that they would have the licence to operate with impunity like the lawless youths forcibly taking over business belonging to city residents trying to eke out a living in various parts of the country.

It is the responsibility of the police to stop the charlatans and ensure that every resident of Harare enjoys the protection of the law even if they do not susbscribe to Zanu PF policies.

Zanu PF as a party also needs to disengage from the election mode and call its supporters to order.

The country cannot be perpetually locked in mindless political games that would not bring development, but perpetuate the misery of the poor.

Harare City Council should be firm and reject political interference in civic affairs.

The allocation of new vending stalls in the city must be on merit.