Sunday, March 22, 2009

(HERALD) Zanu-PF, MDC in historic march

Zanu-PF, MDC in historic march
By Sydney Kawadza

VICE PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe yesterday exchanged party regalia to send a message to errant party supporters who have been beating each other up that it is time for co-existence, as they led women across the political divide in a march to commemorate International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day, which is officially observed on March 8 annually, is a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women.

It was, thus, fitting that the two most powerful women in Zimbabwean politics today led the charge in yesterday’s belated observance of the day.

Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC supporters, clad in their respective party regalia, marched side by side, the first such show of solidarity since the launch of the MDC on September 11, 1999, and a major boost for the inclusive Government that is still in its infancy.

The marchers, who began their procession at Fourth Street bus terminus en route to the City Sports Centre, were joined by members of the judiciary, lawyers, the business community, academics, civic leaders, diplomats, soldiers, policewomen and churches at various points along the way.

The main celebrations — held at the City Sports Centre under the theme "Sharing and Caring to End Violence against Women and Girls" — were preceded by the observance of a minute of silence in memory of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife who died in a car accident two weeks ago.

Addressing the capacity crowd, Vice President Mujuru urged Zimbabweans to spread the message of sharing, caring, forgiveness and tolerance in the spirit of unity across party lines.

"I particularly call upon the leadership of all political parties in Zimbabwe to direct their supporters to immediately stop the violence that continues to retard progress in cementing and consolidating the efforts of our inclusive Government.

"Violence of whatever form should never be tolerated. It is wrong, unacceptable, inexcusable and it must stop. The truth is that collectively we can stop the violence," she said.

VP Mujuru challenged Zimbabweans, male or female, to act in a manner that promotes tolerance, peace and harmony within the family and between families.

"That way, a peaceful society will begin to evolve," she said.

She said despite the fact that Zimbabweans are very peaceful and peace-loving people, the country continues to be rocked by isolated and frequent incidents of violence.

"This has provided our enemies with ammunition for negative publicity. The new political dispensation will no doubt contribute positively towards reduction of politically motivated violence," she said.

VP Mujuru said political and gender-based violence creates a bad image for the nation and retards development.

She said poverty was also linked to gender-based violence, adding that there was also need for the protection of the girl child who is exposed to a harsh economic environment that has made her vulnerable to sexual exploitation and HIV and Aids.

"It is wrong for violence to be perpetrated against women and it is worse for the same to be perpetrated against children.

"Let us all work together, women and men, to ensure that we protect girls in the manner that we would protect our own biological children. We cannot afford to destroy our future.

"SaAmai ndinoda kupedza ndichiti ngatichishandira pamwe, takasungana samadzimai navasikana. Ngatitsiureyi vana vedu nyaya yemhirizhonga ichipera muZimbabwe. Tose tikapa chisungo ichi, Mwari vachatibatsira tikakunda," she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Khupe said Zimbabweans were working together to rebuild the country.

She reiterated the call for an immediate stop of politically motivated violence for the development of the country.

"A future without violence brings economic prosperity, improved education and health services, but with violence all these cannot be developed," she said.

Deputy PM Khupe urged women to lead in moving the country forward in a peaceful manner, urging youths to have respect and discipline.

"We must not fight amongst each other so that we build the nation together. Violence is abnormal, whether it is in the family, community or countrywide. Zvakwana, sokwanele, hatidi kurwisana. Violence, violence, violence must stop," she said.

Security forces in Zimbabwe, she said, should protect the people and attend to cases reported to them.

"The country’s political leadership signed the Global Political Agreement and we are bound by the letter and spirit of the agreement.

"Let us develop a culture of respect and build bridges to find ways to work together, find social ways to settle disputes and share efforts to create a violence-free Zimbabwe," she said.

The political leadership from Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC, joined by Mrs Jacqueline Mutambara, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s wife, shared the podium to address the women clad in various political party regalia.

Among the leaders were Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Olivia Muchena, her deputy Evelyn Masaiti, Ministers of State Sekai Holland and Flora Bhuka, Public Works Minister Theresa Makone and deputy ministers Tracy Mutinhiri (Labour and Social Welfare) and Jessie Majome (Justice and Legal Affairs).

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