Time Zimbabwe exorcised itself of violence

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Every time there are media reports about political violence, there is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, a feeling that we have been down this road before.

There have been so many reports on political violence that many stories sound too familiar and sometimes do not get the response from the public and authorities that they deserve.

However, it is the duty of the media to continue to report on politically-motivated violence and, hopefully, this will jolt the authorities and ordinary citizens into acting and stopping this uncalled-for scourge.

We find it totally anachronistic that in this day and age there are still people willing to engage in violence in an effort to convince others to think like them.

Politics is about ideology, it is about convincing others to understand your way of thinking rather than trying to bash them to see your viewpoint.

Put simply, politics is about brain and not brawn.

It is in this regard that we find it worrying that there is an increase in the number of cases of political violence in recent weeks.

As all right-minded Zimbabweans should be, we are worried about reports of political violence in Harare South in the past couple of weeks, while the skirmishes in the central business district yesterday have left us vexed on why this is happening.

We keep reiterating that elections, which are three years away, are still too far for political temperatures to rise as they have done in recent weeks and we implore parties to calm down their supporters.

Without resorting to clichés and rhetoric, Zimbabwe is desperate for investment and political violence will only help scare away any investor.

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The last elections were relatively peaceful and we find these new cases of violence particularly distressing, as we thought we had matured as a country and now realised that politics is a battle of ideas rather than coercion.

It is also imperative that the police – a critical player in political violence, both as the law enforcement agents and sometimes the alleged instigators – are reminded that the new Constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of association and they should be circumspect when dealing with crowds.

As the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has already stated, the police force should include, in their training curricula, aspects on policing human rights and political violence.

It is high time Zimbabwe exorcised itself of the demons of violence. We have witnessed too many episodes of violence for such a young country.

The 1980s were blighted by the Gukurahundi massacres, the early 1990s were marred by violence against the then nascent opposition, while the violence at the turn of the millennium is still fresh in the minds of many.

Operation Murambatsvina and the electoral violence of 2008 are some of the darkest moments of our history.

Zimbabwe, as a nation, is only 35 years old, but we have seen political violence to last us a lifetime.

Both sides of the political divide must be encouraged to sit down and take stock of what political violence does to the country, both as an investment and a tourist destination.

More so the ruling party and the government must take the initiative in spreading the message of peace and reconciliation.

We understand that there might be some political tensions, but we are also cocksure violence will not solve anything.