We need civilised language from the top

via We need civilised language from the top November 8, 2014

YESTERDAY, we carried a story with the headline It’s up to Mugabe, Grace to stop factionalism, about the fanning of hate language that has erupted from the intense faction fights currently rocking the ruling Zanu PF party.

Indeed, hate language has been used on public platforms. All sorts of insults with equally revolting expletives have been unleashed against the camp of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who stands accused by First Lady Grace Mugabe and her cheerleaders, including outgoing Zanu PF Women’s League leader Oppah Muchinguri, of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.

So, it was strange to hear Zanu PF deputy director for information Psychology Maziwisa give a spirited defence of this obvious and blatant abuse and try to shift blame to the media for merely doing its duty of reporting facts as they are. Shooting the messenger does not absolve the merchants of hate speech. They remain culpable and censurable.

Said Maziwisa: “Everybody has misjudged the mood in Zanu PF . . . Some issues have been blown out of proportion and the media has been fanning hatred and taking sides. We feel that is regrettable and not in the national interest.”

First, saying that everybody has misjudged the mood in Zanu PF is presumptuous and wrong. The whole saga has been played out in public and repeated many times on national TV.

Second, about taking sides, it is the Mugabes who are most guilty of this with Grace openly telling her audiences that she preferred Justice minister Emmerson Mnangangwa over Mujuru, and the much-abused and panel-beaten State media following this as if on cue without establishing the veracity and justification of the accusations against Mujuru.

Instead of quibbling that “If you think Zanu PF will implode, December is the answer. The MDC-T will implode into MDC-Mwonzora, MDC Chamisa”, he should have addressed the issue of hate language. The MDC, Zanu PF or any other party, for that matter, can implode into a million or more factions, but what is unacceptable is the use of hate language by whoever, including the Mugabes. The hate language is on record.

It cannot be denied.

The attacks on Mujuru have been particularly vicious and virulent. That they are mostly of a personal nature, not on political grounds, has poisoned the atmosphere. The Mujuru camp, to its immense credit, has so far not stooped to that gutter level.

The First Lady has led the torrent of abuse, referring, for instance, to the physique of Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde as if his small stature has anything to do with his alleged affiliation to the Mujuru camp or alleged disrespect of Grace. Liberally spewing such vile language cannot be good for any public figure, no matter how much they have been angered.

Said political analyst Ibbo Mandaza: “There are people who are supposed to speak out against that, people including the Head of State and his wife, who have fanned factionalism now more than ever before.”

Indeed, hate language has escalated since First Lady Grace Mugabe stepped into the political arena two months ago and announced her arrival with attacks against Mujuru and her camp.

The onus is on the Mugabes to set the right tone of language.