HARARE - It is alarming that Zanu PF is again threatening to unleash abductions and violence if it loses the Bikita West by-election.
The threats by Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa at Gwindingwi Primary School on Wednesday were not only primitive and unwarranted, but also served to show that violence is indeed a part of Zanu PF’s DNA.
It appears the ghost of the tightly-contested 2001 by-election in Bikita West is returning to haunt the Masvingo Province constituency.
The seat fell vacant following rapist Munyaradzi Kereke’s incarceration for 14 years.
Only last year, President Robert Mugabe made ominous remarks following independent candidate Temba Mliswa’s victory in the Norton by-election, saying that must not be allowed to happen again. Somehow we begin to think the president was also implicitly threatening violence.
Perhaps the Zanu PF women’s league bigwig’s threats are a reiteration of her boss’ implied threats, but the ‘‘old bat’’ Mahofa should know better that her rural, thuggish and uncouth statements are not helpful at all to calm down this traumatised nation.
In the run-up to the Norton by-election, the party’s mobs also disrupted a campaign rally organised by Mliswa, beating up supporters who had turned up for the meeting.
In Guruve, Mashonaland Central Province, axe-wielding Zanu PF youths attacked and injured Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) members, including ex-envoy and retired brigadier-general Agrippa Mutambara.
Violence broke out when the ruling party gang invaded a subdivision of Dunaventy Farm that is owned by a ZPF provincial leader, Obert Mutasa.
Perhaps Zimbabweans have a tendency of forgetting the past too quickly. In 2008, especially in the run-up to the June 27 presidential run-off, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the polls after over 200 of his supporters had been killed in politically-motivated violence.
Hundreds of others were either maimed or left homeless in well-choreographed campaigns by suspected State agents. Resorting to violence shows Zanu PF is afraid of losing and wants to instil fear in opponents, a trait which smacks heavily of intolerance.
Bludgeoning people for having opposing views is not only morally wrong, but something that should have disappeared with the Stone Age.
The Zanu PF leadership must take the blame for all this and must discourage their supporters from using violence, show they are walking the talk on zero-tolerance to violence. The police must be allowed to arrest all perpetrators of political violence irrespective of their political affiliation.
The people of Bikita West have had enough. After suffering unprecedented violence in 2001, they surely need a break. They must be allowed to vote for a candidate of their choice in a free and peaceful atmosphere.