Editor’s Memo: Violence is primitive, stop it!

Faith Zaba, editor, Zimbabwe Independent 

ZIMBABWE and political violence are like Siamese twins; almost inseparable. Be it intra or inter party violence, it has been commonplace in the political matrix from 1980 to date.

Yet, violence has overarching repercussions. It damages the image of the country. The “Brand Zimbabwe” and other initiatives will come to nought if violence is not tamed.

I am not a Zimbabwe-pessimist. But I am a realist.

Even some notable feminists would agree with me.

Think about Barbara Deming, an American feminist and advocate for non-violent social change (1917-1984) who once wrote that: “(MAHATMA) Gandhi once declared that it was his wife who unwittingly taught him the effectiveness of non-violence. Who better than women should know that battles can be won without resort to physical strength? Who better than we should know all the power that resides in non-cooperation?”

Remember last week in an article titled Political tolerance keystone to democracy, I extensively wrote about the need for Zimbabwe to foster tolerance.

Tolerance breeds unity and national development. Is that not what we all want?

I opined in my last article: “With elections beckoning, Zimbabwe must promote respect for life, equal rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association, tolerance and greater understanding between different political parties.

“Violence is primitive and hate speech polarises the nation and incites hostility, discrimination and violence.

“I was impressed by their (youth leaders from Zanu PF, Citizens Coalition for Change, student movements, trade unions, young intellectuals, social justice and development activists)’s level of debate and intellect. What impressed me most was the level of respect they demonstrated for each other. This is critical to ease political polarisation in a country which for decades has been deeply divided along partisan lines.

“It was refreshing to be in a room with a group of young people from different political parties and organisations, where each respected the other’s views without the toxicity drowning Zimbabwe’s politics. Party leaders from across the political divide have a lot to learn from these young men and women.” I was hopeful!

But alas, all hope was lost this week.

There are rising concerns that the harmonised elections to be held either in July or August are likely to be bloody.

Events in the past week have heightened fears of a bloodshed during the campaign period. It’s just another silly season.

The primary elections in Zanu PF have been marred by intra-party violence. There are even reports of abductions and torture.

According to reports by our sister newspaper, the Newsday, violence rockedZanu PF ahead of the primary elections.

In Chegutu, there was a report of a woman who was raped. Some party members abducted, drugged and tortured.

This is barbaric. We strongly condemn such heinous actions.

Both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and CCC president Nelson Chamisa have been preaching peace during the election campaign.

National Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira summed it well when he preached tolerance and peace. He stated that legislators from the rival Zanu PF and CCC dinetogether while their supporters engage in violence.

American singer, songwriter, musician and activist Joan Baez puts it into perspective. “The point of non-violence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink. A platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, the works. Give man a decent place to stand.

“That’s all non-violence is – organised love.”      

Zimbabwe, as Martin Luther King said “needs to evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love” for our country.

Why should election violence be common in developing countries? The implications are detrimental.

For once, we want peaceful elections. A break fromthe culture of political violence, with no lives lost, people maimed, tortured or raped, is what peace-loving Zimbabweans want.

We need to end this cancer. This demon called political violence must not be tolerated any longer. Enough is enough.

We cannot continue to be stuck in this destructive vicious circle where almost every election in Zimbabwe since 1980 has been marred by political violence, both intra and inter-party.

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