Political violence on the rise

Source: Political violence on the rise – DailyNews Live

Mugove Tafirenyika and Blessings Mashaya      30 July 2017

HARARE – As the country hurtles towards the crunch 2018 harmonised
elections, there are fears that the polls would be marred by political

This comes as there are renewed fears that the debilitating violence that
rocked the country when the ruling party lost the 2008 elections could
flare up again.

With the scourge of violence already rearing its ugly head, political
analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday said indications on the
ground point to a poisoned atmosphere.

Afghanistan-based analyst Maxwell Saungweme said if recent Zimbabwe Peace
Project reports that have implicated the ruling Zanu PF party as the chief
perpetrator of violence in the majority of cases are anything to go by,
“then there will certainly be blood on the floor” come election time.

“You can’t rule out violence, pugnacity and pandemonium in these elections
given our notoriety for violence because already, violence has started if
you follow Zimbabwe Peace Project reports – so things are likely to get
worse as we approach elections,” Saungweme said.

The opposition MDC has since condemned the surge of violence in Harare
which saw its car and properties belonging to its senior officials being
torched in suspected cases of arson by people believed to be from Zanu PF.

On Wednesday, the MDC demanded in Parliament that action be taken on the
incidents which they described as acts of thuggery.

“I would want the house to request the leader of the House today to issue
a statement in relation to the rising political violence which the country
has witnessed over the past two weeks,” Chitungwiza North MP Godfrey
Sithole said in the National Assembly.

Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said at this rate, there was
limited or no chance that next year’s elections would be violence-free.

“We are likely to see a violence-free election, the conditions for free
and fair elections are not there. The institutions that are supposed to
promote violence-free elections are compromised and are not independent.
They are controlled by Zanu PF, which largely benefits from violence.”

Last week, President Robert Mugabe and his party dissociated themselves
from the terror gangs that have resurfaced in some of the country’s major
towns and cities ahead of next year’s elections.

Mugabe told the youths to deal with these gangs, a comment which has
triggered protests from the opposition and other peace-loving Zimbabweans.

Political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa said Zanu PF is used to solve
political differences using violence. “It is very direct in that he is
saying use violence to resolve problems.

“He was supposed to tell the police to arrest perpetrators. Telling them
to beat those people shows that he knows violence is party of Zanu PF’ DNA
system. He knows Zanu PF is capable of using violence, and it has worked
for them.”

People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “Mugabe has
always believed in violence. He has that in their DNA. They even want to
treat the economy violently using command economics. The country is facing
an implosion; the succession is being handled badly. And that is going to
end in a violent process.”

Welshman Ncube-led MDC’s spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, weighed in
saying Mugabe’s sentiments will trigger violence.

“We are dealing with someone who is not sincere and known as the architect
behind the terror activities. He is a serial flip-flopper whose statements
have contributed to loss of life and permanent injuries.

“We have a leader who changes colour and behaviour like a chameleon. The
statements uttered by Mugabe have the potential to trigger political
violence ahead of 2018 elections. We are urging Robert Mugabe to desist
from uttering inflammatory statements.”

Saungweme said Mugabe is known to speak and encourage violence. “You
remember the `I have degrees in violence’ speech. If you know Mugabe’s
rule, you would understand it’s punctuated by divide-and-rule, deceit,
diversionary tactics and violence.

“Violence is usually used by him and his supporters to create a sense of
terror and fear. The youth service he created was part of his architecture
of violence.”

The spectre of violence ahead of next year’s plebiscite has also been made
ominous following recent calls by Mugabe for the reintroduction of the
National Youth Service programme.

In February while addressing guests at his 93rd birthday celebrations in
Matobo, Matabeleland South Province, Mugabe said the training programme,
which was established in 2001, was necessary to instil national pride and
discipline among the nation’s youth.

Known as the “Green Bombers”, the graduates were accused of human rights
abuses and brutal crackdowns against opposition activists and supporters,
particularly in the run-up to the 2008 elections.

In 2008, at least 300 MDC supporters are estimated to have been murdered
in cold blood after Mugabe suffered a stunning loss to opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai in that year’s presidential ballot – which the
nonagenarian has since openly acknowledged on a number of occasions that
he lost hands-down.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is worried by reports
of escalation of politically-motivated violence incidents, in particular
arsons, that are reminiscent of the June 2008.

“These gory incidents, the latest being the arson attack on Tendai
Nyachuru, a kraal head in Mazoe, come at a time when the election season
is encroaching upon us and instead of Zimbabweans looking forward to
choosing national leaders of their choice freely, they are dreading the
whole process.

“ZCTU is concerned that in some sections of government, it is business as
usual with national leaders seemingly paying lip service in calling for
cessation to violence. Prospects of a free and fair harmonised election
are fast fading given the insincerity of political leadership in dealing
with violence.

“ZCTU believes the re-emergence of politically-motivated violence could
have been stemmed if the country had gone through a process of sincere
truth finding, justice, reconciliation and reparations for violent
incidents of the past.

“The lack of security, State institutions and media reforms has also not
helped the matter because we continue to see traces of institutionalised
violence and hate speech.

“The international community cannot guarantee a free and fair poll in
Zimbabwe hence the onus is on us as Zimbabweans to fight for what we
believe in despite the adversity.

“The ZCTU fears a situation where communities will be forced to retaliate
as this will spell more doom for the country.

“The ZCTU demands that police stop dithering on arresting perpetrators of
political violence without fear or favour. Zimbabweans need to go to the
polls under a peaceful environment.

“We also demand that political leadership in Zimbabwe place the interest
of the masses above narrow political interests.

“They should commit themselves to consolidating, defending and maintaining
democracy, peace, security and stability and this should go beyond
grandstanding in the media.

“We also call upon the early deployment of elections observers from
Southern African Development Community and International community to
monitor the environment right from the voter registration process until
after the announcement of results,” said ZCTU.