'Peace begins with you, me, us'

HARARE - “Peace begins with you, peace begins with me; peace begins with all of us!”

The aforementioned wise words have been popularised by President Robert Mugabe who at recent State events asks those in attendance to repeat them after him. Mugabe says these are not his words, but those of the late John Nkomo.

Indeed wise words: “Peace begins with you, peace begins with me; peace begins with all of us!”

In recent months and weeks Zimbabweans from all walks of life have been using every available avenue to preach about peace.

From politicians, musicians, sports personalities to the media, the message has been of peace building and co-existence among Zimbabweans.

Zanu PF and MDC supporters have in recent weeks been holding soccer matches throughout the country as a way to co-exist.

NGOs and other civic organisations have been in the forefront organising such tournaments.

Other initiatives have been made by Jomic and we have witnessed Zanu PF and MDC supporters in clean-ups  campaigns while they proudly wear their party regalia.

Musicians the world over have also been known to organise peace concerts and the late great reggae star Bob Marley’s 1978 peace concert in Jamaica still rings bells.

Dubbed “One Love Peace Concert” and held in the outdoor National Stadium in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, Prime Minister Michael Manley and opposition leader Edward Seaga embraced and joined hands with Marley in an emotional scene.

The peace concert happened at a crucial period in Jamaican politics as the city’s ghettos had been torn apart by gun battles between Marshall and Massop’s quasi-political street gangs (Massop supporting Seaga’s Jamaica Labour party, and Marshall favouring Manley’s ruling People’s National party, (PNP).
 
In Zimbabwe, musicians from all genres have been composing songs revolving around the theme of peace and music albums have been released.

Artistes for Democracy of Zimbabwe, ATDZ this weekend officially launched a peace album at the Domboshawa Hills that comprises musicians Suluman Chimbetu, Chiwoniso Maraire, Edith WeUtonga and Jah Prayzah titled Moyo Munyoro.

Other musicians who have also independently joined in the release of peace albums include gospel star Pastor G and the “Bullman” Tendai Chidarikire.

Centre for Community Development of Zimbabwe, CCDZ has also been taking the peace call on its country outreach and has organised successful football matches between Zanu PF and MDC members.

The sudden mood to call for peace has been borne more out of a desire by Zimbabweans to have peaceful harmonised elections expected anytime this year.

And from all peace initiatives taken so far, the rational has been for Zimbabweans not to have a repeat of the 2008 elections which turned violent with brother killing sister while “children” wantonly beat their own parents.

The fear of a violent election is clear in many, given that before the 2008 elections there seemed to have developed some form of coexistence among political parties, only for things to switch to the worse as the poll heat took the whole country captive.

Zimbabweans love their peace and have in the past been pained as misguided politicians engaged youths and other vulnerable groups to wage violence against perceived opponents only for a penny.

Embarrassingly, those involved in the violent crusades are people with money, those in leadership, MPs and ministers, who ordinary Zimbabweans would be looking forward to for protection.

During the 2008 election violence it was sickening to hear murmurs of State security agencies, soldiers and the police being mentioned as part of those carrying out the ghostly hunts which were of a mafia type.

There were several instances when soldiers and the police, State agencies meant to safeguard us as law-abiding citizens turned violent against citizens with those seeking protection from their institutions getting detained and punished instead.

It will take a lot from politicians and those in power to instill confidence in Zimbabweans who lived the 2008 era when women and men had nails stuck into their bodies as though they were witches.

But lessons galore for all those who love inflicting pain on others and even today, five years later we still have those involved being tried at the courts and being sent to jail.

The call for peace from all sectors of our society is therefore noble.

As Zimbabweans we should be wiser and for once ask ourselves; Would I want to die for Mugabe, for Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube or Arthur Mutambara? Is it really worth it to die for Zanu PF or MDC?

In earlier interviews, commentators have expressed fear at the resurgence of violence once election campaigning intensifies.

Philip Pasirayi, director of CCDZ said structures of violence were still intact and the State security apparatus are hugely compromised and “it would be difficult to protect communities because the State security organs are partisan. They protect the perpetrators instead of the victims.”

Social commentator Thomas Deve said Zanu PF has a strategy of structuring cells which is often practised as a coercive exercise as they move from door to door to canvass for support.

“The police have not acquitted itself as a neutral force. They are a thoroughly politicised unit and are seen to go where Mugabe goes in terms of politics. All the same, they have a constitutional mandate to protect all citizens regardless of one’s political affiliation.”

Precious Shumba, the Harare Residents Trust director says in Mbare, Chitungwiza and Tafara suburbs some identified political activists have hindered the free movement of people, always organising meetings at street corners without police clearances.

“In most of the communities, residents are just sceptical of the process and fearful of what elections will bring, given their experiences in June 2008.”

Theatre producer Daves Guzha, however, believes violence begets violence.

“Crimes of violence will always be traced to individuals and families as well, so why burden your clan?”

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