ZANU PF central committee member and legislator for Mpopoma-Pelandaba constituency, Joseph Tshuma, has dismissed opposition claims that the ruling party was behind most cases of political violence recorded in the country ahead of next month’s general elections.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Tshuma, instead, challenged the media to name and shame the real merchants of violence to facilitate ease of prosecution, arguing “blanket blaming political parties is not helping to put an end to the vice”.
“I don’t recall a day when in our Zanu PF meetings, the central committee for example, where we discuss issues such as unleashing violence on the opposition. Yes, election violence has been there, but it is certainly not a party policy. We don’t have a rule book on election violence,” he said.
“It is only when some of us in our midst get possessed by a certain demon and engage in violent activities. That demon makes some of us want to grab power by whatever means, even using violence. How do we exorcise that demon?”
Zanu PF leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has consistently called for a peaceful election campaign, but the opposition remains sceptical amid intermittent reports of violence, including the reported murder of a two-year-old boy in Mazowe, whose father is an opposition People’s Rainbow Coalition MP candidate.
Tshuma said the media could play a significant role.
“This is where I believe the media should come in to name and shame the instigators of violence, to name and shame those among us who engineer that violence so that they are prosecuted. I believe blanket blaming a party and not naming the accused is unfair and will not stop the circle of political violence during elections,” Tshuma said.
Since the turn of the century, when a credible opposition to Zanu PF’s uninterrupted rule emerged in the form of the MDC, elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence epitomised by the bloody 2008 run-off campaign from which the late former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out.
The opposition claimed as many as 300 of its activists were maimed and murdered in an orgy of violence that critics argue involved the security services.
Tshuma urged citizens to use new technology to “out” violence instigators or perpetrators.
The country’s is currently enjoying rare peace ahead of the harmonised elections compared to past elections. The Judicial Service Commission has established special courts to deal with cases of politically-motivated violence before, during and after the polls.
Police have also set an election command unit to tackle election-related violence cases.