HARARE – Elections can sow the seeds of good governance when adequately managed. But most of the times here in Zimbabwe, elections trigger widespread political violence because they exacerbate tensions in this fragile, conflict-prone, and oppressive society.
National People’s Party (NPP) president Joice Mujuru hit the campaign trail last week, fronting the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) ahead of this year’s key general election, but was forced to flee for dear life after a marauding gang of Zanu PF youths attacked her in Glen Norah.
Alert NPP youths were said to have shielded the former State vice president from attack by Zanu PF thugs.
Mujuru survived a brutal attack from a barrage of stones being thrown at her by hired Zanu PF youths at Chitubu shops.
Attempting to sabotage rallies and defacing opposition supporters’ campaign posters is Zanu PF’s stock-in-trade.
We take heart in the fact that this nastiness was swiftly and roundly condemned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF which must be commended for defending democracy and its related freedoms.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the party condemns such actions unreservedly and noted that the Zimbabwe Republic Police has made some arrests and that the law must therefore take its course.
Two of these alleged thugs appeared in court yesterday. We will let the law takes its course.
Mnangagwa has consistently and persistently appealed to all Zimbabweans, irrespective of political parties they belong to, to refrain from any form of violence in their day-to- day activities. We agree with him that peace is a prerequisite for development.
But Zanu PF must rein in its own over-zealous followers who may find it difficult to reform past behaviour. We should never countenance incidents of political violence during the election campaign, and we need to take a wider and deeper view when these incidents occur.
Economic reform and policy reviews will set the tone for change, but the real test is to see Zanu PF win a genuinely free and fair poll.
Every citizen who chooses a just and fair process over the current attempt to provoke unwarranted chaos will agree with the new president as we all say no to election violence.
We will never accept a 2008 when the ruling party seemed to give tacit approval to assorted militia and rogue elements in the wider armed forces to break opposition support. It was a very violent 2008 election. Over 200 lives were lost and many still carry the scars from that orgy of State-inspired cruelty.
Ten years later, we fear the return of the same ugly tactics.
There is still time for all participating parties in mid-year general elections to understand that Zimbabwe and its future stability stands above individuals.