We can't go on like this

HARARE - In recent weeks Zimbabwe has witnessed the resurgence of politically-motivated and State-sponsored violence which rights and opposition groups say could be the harbinger for what is likely to happen in the coming months as the country prepares for the crucial 2018 national elections.

Amid this, the international community has been expressing its fears that the Zanu PF succession riddle could plunge the country into serious bloodletting as the country prepares for the all-important polls.

“The main security risk to investors in Zimbabwe stems from the threat of political violence, which tends to flare up around election periods.

“Ongoing succession battles within the ruling Zanu PF party have contributed negatively to political stability in Zimbabwe.

“We have seen a premature spike in political violence with different factions engaging in clashes countrywide in 2016, and we expect risks of outbreaks of political violence to remain elevated through to 2018,” Business Monitor International (BMI) — an independent provider of country risk and industry analysis specialising in emerging and frontier markets — warned in its latest report.

At the beginning of this month, the United States Centre for Preventive Action (CPA), which seeks to help prevent, defuse, or resolve deadly conflicts around the world, said in its recommendations for US policy towards Zimbabwe, that the major area of concern was Mugabe’s seeming reluctance to plan for a transition.

This is the view from outside in so far as the issue of succession is concerned.

On the domestic scene, the disturbing incidents of politically-motivated violence that are being documented and reported on by the rights and peace-building civic groups are worrisome.

They are coming at a time the country is hurtling towards elections — serving to remind us how, as a people, that we abandon respect for the sanctity of life in pursuit of serving the interests of political parties by engaging in mindless bloodletting.

What is quite disturbing is that political parties, such as Zanu PF, seem to have decided that when it is election time relations don’t matter as long as there are people who differ with its ideology and performance in government.

This is put into perspective by the utterances by some of its senior officials and ministers who appear to have taken leave of their senses, at least judging by the inflammatory remarks they have made in the past days, at a time we expect condemnation of acts of violence.

In the last 10 days we have seen MDC officials reporting separately about destructions to their properties and violence they suspected was being fomented by Zanu PF sympathisers.

The MDC youths and ordinary people have been reporting of injuries sustained in brutal attacks by police stemming from a recent demonstration in the capital which was crushed by the law enforcement agents through use of force.

All these acts are alarming and have given strong suspicions among victims of previous political violence that they signpost what lies ahead in the coming months.

Zimbabweans must fight to stop this violence which has been used as a coercive tool to sow divisions and hatred in our democratic society which prides itself on being educated.

There is no reason why friends or neighbours should turn against each other because of the inducement by political parties such as what is beginning to unravel before us.

The police on its part is seriously being found wanting as it has failed to remove this unflattering tag that it is partisan.

This tag becomes even more justified when one takes into account recent statements made by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, who claimed that the burning of an MDC car by unknown thugs was an “inside” job.

Chombo is much smarter than that and should know such remarks are not helpful to anyone.

They only serve to soil the image of Zimbabwe and that of State institutions such as the police, which he represents.

He should be at the forefront of promoting peace and tolerance of divergent views.

Otherwise when the international community and local civic groups, express fears of a bloody 2018 election, whether fuelled by factional fights or political intolerance, it would be hard not to believe them.

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