Elias Kanengoni hero status shows Zanu PF arrogance

HARARE - If anyone doubted the fact that Zanu PF is uncaring, cruel and arrogant, the latest incident in which the party has conferred national hero status on convicted attempted murderer, Elias Kanengoni says it all.

Elias Kanengoni is the man who together with his accomplice, Kizito Chivamba, pumped six bullets into the groin of late former Gweru mayor, Patrick Kombayi in the run up to the 1990 general elections.

Kombayi’s “crime” was throwing his hat into the electoral ring to contest then Vice President Simon Muzenda for a parliamentary seat.

Both Kanengoni and Chivamba were convicted of attempted murder and were duly sentenced by the court.

However, President Robert Mugabe immediately pardoned them by using his prerogative to protect the attempted murderers.

It did not matter to Mugabe and Zanu PF that the man whose life the convicts had tried to take, Patrick Kombayi, had played a critical role in the liberation struggle, funding the liberation movements in the 1970s.

The presidential pardons were despicable enough because they condoned acts of violence and promoted impunity but conferring hero status to the convicted attempted murderer is the ultimate slap in the face not only to Kombayi’s family but the entire nation.

It is a licence to murder and violate others for political reasons.

Zanu PF does not care. It demonstrates sheer arrogance.

It says that this is a party of violence and brutality because they will confer honours upon criminals rather than punish them.

Broadly speaking, conferring national hero status on Kanengoni, a convicted attempted murderer, is a message from Zanu PF to the people of the Midlands and Matabeleland that Zanu PF has no intention to apologise or atone for Gukurahundi.

Instead, they will confer honours upon the perpetrators of Gukurahundi.  

If they have the audacity to confer honours upon a convict, what more regarding the architects of the brutal murders during Gukurahundi? Zanu PF is prepared to give them national hero status.

There will never be healing and closure on Gukurahundi under a Zanu PF government just as this latest episode ensures there can never be closure for Kombayi’s family under a Zanu PF regime.

It is poignant that the convicted attempted murderer has been given national hero status at a time when the country is gearing up for elections. The offence for which he was convicted was an act of political violence — extreme, cold-blooded political violence against a political opponent.

Pardoning the convicted attempted murderers was a reward for their acts of violence.

It is such conduct, whereby purveyors of violence are granted protection by the State that has contaminated the political environment in Zimbabwe.

Violence stems from the statements that are made by the leadership — statements may be by words or conduct.

It is no use preaching peace by word of mouth while your conduct suggests, condones and encourages violence.

The messages that Mugabe has been making regarding peace and non-violence have been completely overshadowed by the act of conferring national hero status to a convicted attempted murderer whose offence was to all intents and purposes an act of political violence.

You cannot give peace with one hand while taking it away with the other.

The important thing is that the people of Zimbabwe are not stupid.

The people of Zimbabwe are mature, discerning people who refuse to be taken for granted.

They know that perpetrators of Gukurahundi are seen as heroes in Zanu PF.

They know that purveyors of destruction during Operation Murambatsvina are regarded as heroes in Zanu PF.

They also know that authors of grotesque violence, including cold-blooded murder, in the run up to the June 27, 2008 presidential run-off election have not been and will not be brought to book under a Zanu PF government.

They know that Zanu PF does not care about them. They also know that they do not want to live in fear any longer; that they cannot be subjected to violence and intimidation.

The MDC is geared up to transform the political culture in this country so that the State protects and respects its people. The new Constitution does not allow senior security sector officers from holding political positions in any political party.

The late Kanengoni, who was a senior intelligence official was also a Zanu PF Central Committee member.

The new Constitution prohibits such conduct for the simple reason that it compromises the professionalism and non-partisanship that is otherwise expected of security sector officers.

Under the new Constitution the army, CIO, Police, etc will be allowed to be the professionals that they must be; they will be allowed to perform their duties in a non-partisan manner, without political interference. - Own Correspondent

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