Thursday, May 15, 2008

Violence will not help Zimbabwe

Violence will not help Zimbabwe
By Editor
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

The increasing of what appears to be politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe is very worrying. Unfortunately, the political divisions along political party lines among the people of Zimbabwe is what is leading to this bloody drama. No doctrine, no principle or proclaimed political position and no political divisions can justify such atrocious acts. No crime can be committed in the name of politics or freedom.

Violence can only do one thing, and that is to breed counter-violence.
We hope our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe will realise that the use of violence against any individual or group is something that puts those who do so next to animals.

Intolerance of this nature must surely rank as one of the worst forms of immorality in human affairs. We can see the horror of this in Zimbabwe today in people who are going out of their way to organise violence or murder someone who belongs to another political party.

But violence, unacceptable as it may be, is not something new to Zimbabwean politics. What is happening in Zimbabwe today must be familiar to those who saw the manner in which Zanu-PF youths went on rampage in the general elections of 1985 and 1990.

This is the same kind of violence which maimed Patrick Kombayi of Gweru for life, for daring to stand against the then vice-president Simon Muzenda in the 1990 elections. There is a sub-culture of blood in Zimbabwe that needs to be well understood if it is to be eradicated.

What has been distinctly lacking for a very long time in Zimbabwean politics is a culture of tolerance and humility which places the humanity of others before self and accepts that all citizens of that country have a right to participate in the shaping of their destiny directly without fear of reprisal.

And generally, this is Africa’s tragedy; the inability to value every single innocent life and bring happiness to its people without demanding eternal support. And our politicians are usually only upset when their side is losing in the violence or when the police and the law disrupt this festival of violence when their side is winning.

And there is no side that is totally innocent from political violence in Zimbabwe. Both the opposition and the ruling party are guilty of violence. What differs really is just the degrees and also the role of the police in all this. The police seems to be on the side of the cadres or supporters of the ruling party. This is not acceptable. The right to equal protection of the law enforcement agencies is fundamental to any just system.

Whether political ally or opponent of those in control of government – all should be entitled to equal protection of the police. Under no circumstances should the police impose additional inequalities; it should be required to deal even and equally with all the people of Zimbabwe regardless of their political affiliation.

And no one should be above the law. Criminal acts should be punished regardless of which political party those involved belong to. But the rules and procedures by which the police enforces the laws must not be subject to political manipulation.

If this political violence is allowed to continue, all sorts of criminal elements – which every society has – will soon join in, taking advantage of the anarchy to perpetrate more anarchy. If this happens, it will be very difficult for Zimbabwe to regain its bearings.

And those who wish to see peace in Zimbabwe should also focus on all acts of political violence and not only those committed against members and supporters of opposition MDC.

We have seen in the past cases where supporters of the Zimbabwean opposition have petrol-bombed police stations injuring officers in the process, but when the foreign supporters of MDC go to visit hospitals, they have never bothered to pay any attention to these officers or indeed Zanu-PF supporters who have also been injured as a result of MDC violence. This is not helping the Zimbabwean situation.

Condemnation is always proper judgment on political violence. Crimes of this nature defile those who practice them, notwithstanding any reasons offered. Criminal acts can in no way be justified as a way to campaign for political office. Violence inexorably engenders new forms of repression, which usually prove to be more serious.

But most importantly, violence is an attack on life, which depends on the Creator alone.
And we must stress that when politics appeals to violence, it thereby admits its own weakness and inadequacy.

It is the responsibility of all peace-loving Zimbabweans to use all possible means to promote non-violent tactics in their efforts to make their candidates win the presidential runoff.

We cannot fail to praise those who renounce the use of violence in the vindication of their political rights and who resort to methods of defence which are otherwise available to the weaker parties too, provided this can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others. Brusque and violent politics will always be false, ineffective and inconsistent with the dignity of the people.

We should also realise that even the best structures and the most idealised systems quickly become inhuman if human inclinations are not improved, if there is no conversion of heart and mind on the part of those who are controlling them.

Elections that are based on violence can never be said to be free and fair because people cannot be expected to freely express their will in such elections.

For us, true democracy is a growth in confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves. It is a growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding, creating together. It is the growth of fraternal love.

Rational voting cannot take place in an electoral system based on intimidation and violence. We want to hear condemnation of violence from the political leaders of Zimbabwe, especially those whose supporters are committing such acts. It shouldn’t be forgotten that peace in a nation is the fruit of honesty, truth and solidarity; it is the tranquility of order.

And to guarantee peace in Zimbabwe, to remove electoral violence from that country’s politics, all are called to maturity, tolerance and responsibility. Peace is a project, that is, it is something they must work individually and collectively to obtain. The current political differences in Zimbabwe cannot be resolved by violence.

Only an intelligent approach, seeking compromise and consensus, can decidedly clear away these differences. As we have already stated, those involved in political violence should realise that such an approach to politics can only do one thing, and that is to breed counter-violence. And as every Zimbabwean citizen exercise his or her freedoms, they shouldn’t forget that they are bound to responsible behaviour and respect for the freedoms of others. We all want our rights to be respected.

But let us not try to call others to virtues which we ourselves are not making an effort to practice. It is folly for anyone to think that they need to use violence in order to intimidate those who don’t support them, who don’t share their views into acquiescence.

The most important thing is to bring happiness to people. And happiness cannot be brought to the people of Zimbabwe through political violence. Violence is something which should be totally uprooted from the politics of that country.

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