Violence breeds violence

Now, the regime is, of all things, accusing the opposition of fuelling terrorism under the guise of the current wave of protests when it’s the exact opposite.

Source: Violence breeds violence – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 2, 2016


Without condoning the violence which broke out during the protests last week, it is necessary to put this into perspective because people do not just wake up to throw stones maniacally and burn property as if they are serial arsonists.

Sometimes this stems from gross provocation and the partisan police has been good at goading protesters by attacking them randomly and brutally despite court orders allowing the demonstrations to proceed.

As a result, what we are now seeing is not just anger, but rage within the long-suffering and long-patient people. If you push people to the limit, there can only be one reaction: retaliation.

If you drive people into a corner, they will come back straight at you because there is no other way they can get out of that corner.

There is footage aplenty of the police attacking people — even those going about their private business — to corroborate this.

There are much more pictures of political brutality than images of protesters attacking the police. In this day and age of citizen journalism, everyone — practically everyone — with a phone — even villagers now have one or even two — can capture these brutal images.

And what about the soldiers who went on the rampage last week, wantonly attacking revellers in bars and nightclubs? Was that not terrorism? They should be the last persons to accuse anyone of terrorism.

Who does not remember the naked terrorism seen in 2008 when not only over 200 mainly
MDC-T supporters were killed in cold blood in the run-up to the presidential runoff election, but scores were reportedly maimed gruesomely as their arms were chopped off from the elbow (sickeningly described as “short sleeve” by their sadistic tormentors) and from the wrist (“long sleeve”)?

This not only showed cynicism at its worst, but gratuitous cruelty. It just fell short of the methods of Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, who have redefined wickedness through executing their captives by chopping off their heads and recording the grisly scenes as if for good show or good measure for the whole world to see. Terrorism is terrorism. Terrorism is not, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.
But fair play is instinctive in humanity. That’s why most people naturally come to the defence of the underdog. Likewise, the Judiciary has seen through this partisanship of the police who allow the ruling party to tell them what to do, but block the opposition whenever and wherever they can.

Last week, High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera ordered the police to stop interfering with people’s freedoms of assembly and expression as enshrined in the Constitution, giving the go-ahead to the protest march by opposition parties.

For that, she earned the wrath of State media columnist Nathaniel Manheru’s poison pen.

Hiding behind anonymity as is his wont, he spewed a torrent of abusive and malicious accusations against the judge for merely doing her job of interpreting the law as it stands.

Manheru was at his insufferably didactic worst with his typical over-use of words to sound intellectual when stating an obvious and trivial fact in his super-long articles.

In fact, he is dogmatically didactic. He is given to teaching others all the time on all sorts of topics when his “information” is based on mere personal opinion.

But, of course, Manheru is too vain to even remotely consider that possibility. Maybe proximity to power, through hobnobbing with the Head of State, as his doppelganger reportedly does, has got to his head.

That is why Manheru is almost always at cross purposes with prevailing views and consensus.

Like the Judiciary, it’s not surprising that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has found itself on a collision course with the regime because both bodies stand for fairness and balance, which are anathema to the regime, whose partisanship knows no bounds, knows no shame, with President Robert Mugabe himself openly boasting only recently: “Mapurisa ndeedu (Shona for: The police are in our pockets).”

The concept of the separation of powers — despite being spelt out clearly in the Constitution, to which Zanu PF is a signatory — is totally alien to Zanu PF and Mugabe, who personifies the ruling — not governing — party.

Practically, every State institution — including the police — has been contaminated by partisanship, leaving each and every one of them losing credibility and respect in the eyes of the people.

The ZHRC’s sin was to point out the police brutality carried out with gusto and impunity, with some of that taking place right at the entrance to the Harare Magistrates’ Court. Anything more indicative than that of a frontal attack on the rule of law?

ZHRC rightly refused to be drawn into partisan political games, with the commission’s chairperson Elasto Mugwadi saying: “That statement issued on Sunday (condemning the police savagery) is a balanced report of what was going on at that particular time.”

What was going on at that time was not “alleged brutality”, as one newspaper put it, but actual brutality, as captured on camera.

The State violence we are witnessing will — at the most — bring momentary results or temporary relief for the regime.

“People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that’s how they will react,” said the late South African statesman and global icon Nelson Mandela.

But Mugabe, despite being Ian Smith’s successor, seems to think that he is an exception to that rule and refuses to accept that violence breeds violence.