Mugabe must condemn Zanu PF violence

HARARE - The violent behaviour displayed by the ruling party’s youth league at Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters — Davies Hall — on Sunday is both stunning and disappointing.

Provincial youth league chairperson Anna Mokgohloa was mercilessly clobbered, allegedly by war veterans, while Bulawayo Central district chairperson Magura Charumbira was reportedly stabbed in the head for allegedly backing under-fire national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.

While political violence has come through evolving phases in Zanu PF, it is mainly the war veterans who have been in the forefront of driving it since 2000.

Political violence has been infused into the ruling party. In the run-up to the 2008 presidential run-off, the party’s youth wings and its ordinary rural and urban structures were sucked into the vortex as the party institutionalised violence — driven from a centralised command structure!

Zanu PF is supposed to be the custodian of the country’s Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association. 

It seems this culture of political intolerance is spreading, from the demos calling for Kasukuwere’s ouster to this latest unfortunate incident. One of the quickest and easiest ways to ensure that everyone behaves is to simply police all Zanu PF political gatherings properly.

The riot police need kudos for stepping in to stop the violence in Bulawayo.

If every Zanu PF event is safe from disruption, much of this would end quickly.

If some people insist on being personal and insulting, let them, it doesn’t do the other members any good to get down and dirty with them.

A more dignified response would probably be far more effective anyway.

Whenever an event is disrupted, the leadership must condemn it properly and unequivocally.

But there is silence of the grave from Zanu PF over the Bulawayo mayhem.

And then there must be consequences. People like Zanu PF central committee member Butholezwe Ngwenya and party youths Cosmas Ncube and Maqhawe Sibanda — arrested over Charumbira’s brutal attack — should not be accommodated in a party that claims to have the ideals of tolerance of divergent views.

Mokgohloa alleged war veterans chairman Cephas Ncube called her “Kasukuwere’s prostitute” before fondling her boobs!  The physical violence and misogynistic abuse highlights a bigger problem — the safety of women in political spaces.

All youths who threw pepper spray into the Davies Hall meeting must face the music.

But while these simple moves can be implemented fairly quickly and effectively, the fact remains that dirty politics is almost as old as politics itself. 

The re-establishment of calm in its Bulawayo office is almost entirely dependent on the actions of Zanu PF.

Only its leaders have enough influence to ensure there are consequences for people who engage in acts of political violence.

Zanu PF needs to deal with the issue decisively. With violence of horrific proportions and the real possibility of even more violence to come if the perpetrators are not punished, we face a crisis, a moment of truth, that could even be worse than 2008.

President Robert Mugabe must make a strong public statement condemning the actions of his party’s youth league, and to make it absolutely clear that illegal actions have no place in the politics of a constitutional democracy. 

And while the Zanu PF youth league, like any other organisation, has a constitutional right to protest; all spheres of government are obliged to protect law-abiding citizens against any illegal protests that are orchestrated to harm others and damage both public and private property.

But Zanu PF knows too well how such nefarious actions can turn into powerful tools for the retention of power if the 2008 run-off violence is anything to go by. 

For that reason, and that reason alone, it would be silly for Zanu PF to renounce violence.


Comments (2)

Why would he when that is his modus operandi?

Rasta! - 23 May 2017

Mugabe was already known for his bad behaviour in Mocambique. Then comes 1984, and Gukuruhundi. And, of course, ever since, the atrocities and state-sponsored murders of each election. And often, inbetween.

spiralx - 24 May 2017

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