via Hate speech unacceptable says ZPP 30 October 2014
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has expressed grave concern about the escalation of hate speech as the ruling Zanu (PF) and the MDC-T head for elective congresses.
“The heightened tensions caused by hate speech and attacks on rivals goes beyond acceptable political contests. Hate speech has reached unprecedented levels,” says ZPP.
Over the past month the media has been awash with public statements from politicians attacking their opponents. Some of the attacks were broadcast live on national television thereby expanding their reach.
Hate speech degrades, intimidates or incites violence against someone based on political affiliation, race and ethnicity and can all too easily set off a cycle of violence.
The ZPP says there are many examples from different parts of the world where hate speech has fuelled violence.
“In Rwanda, it is widely believed that hate speech had a significant part to play in the genocide, during which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died. Propaganda campaigns filled with hate speech were unleashed, through the radio and print media and made direct exhortations to communities urging them to take part in the violence before and during the genocide.
The perpetrators called for a “final war” to “exterminate the cockroaches”. This has a disturbing similarity with what is currently happening within Zanu Pf where opponents are calling for the “extermination of weevils” using a banned pesticide, “Gamatox”.”
ZPP gives the following examples of statements it believes have the potential to increase political violence in the near future. Many of them were made by Grace Mugabe:
1. “Ndikati munhu iyeye anotungamira factionalism tirikuda kuti mumuite baby dumping.
Mukasamudumper isusu tichamudumper… Tonomudumper mustreet ogodyiwa nemagora nekuti kana takuita expose kana nhunzi chaidzo ukange wafa apo hadzidi kutombosvika padhuze newe…………. kana imbwa chaidzo dzinenge dzakutotya kusvika padhuze” (I told Baba (President Mugabe) to ‘baby-dump’ that person who is spearheading factionalism in this province (Mashonaland Central.) I told him that if he does not dump the person, we will dump the person on the streets to be devoured by wild cats and once the person is exposed house flies and even dogs will be so disgusted they will not get anywhere near the person).”
The imagery that is created by ‘baby dumping’ which is a social ill, is concerning let alone the thrusting of a body on the streets left to the mercy of wild cats with flies and dogs being repulsed.
2. “Mai Mujuru’s combination with Kaukonde is pathetic; she surrounds herself with political prostitutes. Kaukonde is a Mujuru agent, manje ndakamumaka (I am watching him!) big time. Iko kaye ndiko kane demon. (That one –Kaukonde- has a demon)”
The manner in which Kaukonde as the chairperson of Mashonaland East was addressed was disparaging and the statement had overtones of disrespect.
The hate speech was not only limited to Zanu PF as the MDC-T internal fights had a fair share of unacceptable insults.
3. MDC-T youths in Bulawayo called for Senator Matson Hlalo’s expulsion from the party amid allegations of bringing the name of the party into disrepute. The youths went a step further labelling Hlalo a “homo-sapien of narrow comprehension”. Provincial youth chairperson Mlandu Ncube said Hlalo had a “history of violence” and confusion and that is why the youths had decided to fire him. Hlalo is also accused of using vulgar language.
The level of hate being expressed by the MDC-T youths is quite inexcusable as it is aimed at fellow party leaders. Such levels of hate speech are unacceptable as they can easily lead to intraparty violence.
ZPP believes that it is the role of the Zimbabwe Media Commission to proactively undertake its duties according to the Constitution in Section 249 (1) (b) to promote and enforce good practices and ethics in the media and (c) to monitor broadcasting in the public interest and in particular, to ensure fairness and diversity of views broadly representing Zimbabwean society.
It also urges government to immediately appoint members to the various independent commissions so that they can be fully functional and achieve their intended objectives of supporting and entrenching human rights and democracy.
“We call on political parties and their leaders to strike a balance between freedoms of speech and hate speech,” says ZPP.