A critical mind waits to see if political parties in the inclusive are going to enforce President Robert Mugabe’s declaration, when he officially unveiled New Zim Steel company last month and recently when he called for unity during Solomon Mujuru’s burial, that the nation deserves a free environment during the forthcoming elections.
The problem of political violence that has become intrinsic within the leadership style of Zanu PF is hard to banish at the moment, considering that many unemployed youths, especially in the high-density areas, thrive on it to and in the process deny those perceived to be members of the opposition of their civil liberties. One avenue towards achieving fair polls is to send a clear message to the grassroots level, informing supporters in unambiguous terms, the merits of political tolerance.
The belief that an election can only be won by tormenting the opposition on either side of the political divide can only be extinguished by an earnest attempt to educate the electorate that freedom of choice is one of the greatest pillars of participatory democracy.
Some sections of the society have failed to grasp that political solutions are not attained through the massacre of opponents. Instead, the remedy to political turmoil can only be achieved through mutual understanding between individuals who hold dissenting views.
As Zanu PF and the two MDC formations negotiating teams share the same table to discuss options aimed at salvaging the bleeding economy, the electorate has an obligation also to respect each other’s views as they discuss matters that affect their livelihoods.
In areas that gave rise to some of the acclaimed revolutions in the world such as beer halls, salons or coffee houses —there are some people whose mission is to disrupt fruitful discussions that may assist in shaping noble societal values. In these places, hate speech displaces rational thinking.
In most cases, it is the Zanu-PF supporters who instigate this vitriol, failing to recognise that their party is led by humans, whose rule for over three decades cannot be consistently perfect.
Zanu-PF played its part in promoting free education and ensuring that even the poorest villager had access to a vibrant health delivery system soon after Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980. But, there is a moment when the glory begins to fade.
The destructive effects of the Economic Structural Adjustment (Esap) in the 1990s formed the genesis of a seemingly perennial conflict between economic decline and the slump of the welfare of the majority. Since then, service delivery has remained inglorious, failing to meet the demands of the ordinary citizens.
Every candidate with ambitions to rule this country should understand and accept that if the electorate says NO, then it’s time to quit office and give others a chance. Without acknowledging that political power is sweeter when the masses accept policies that uplift their welfare, the resultant effect is to subjugate them through use of force.
The end to the bloodshed will come only if Zanu PF is firm in denouncing unruly behaviour among its supporters. Peace can also prevail if the MDC formations realise that intra-party violence can be used by Zanu-PF to penetrate its constituencies. The police and the army must relinquish their partisan orientation and protect national citizens without beating them up for their political choice.
A public proclamation calling for peace is noble, but enforcement of the rule of law and constitutional rights will allay fears of torture, harassment and abduction of opponents, especially of those belonging to the opposition. So far, it is remote to assume that there will be an impartial application of the law when electoral campaigns begin, considering that ministers belonging to the MDC formations were recently being arrested arbitrarily.
Rowdy youths, driven largely by ignorance of what an election means, are likely to take heed if their bosses within the upper echelons of power become clear and state in utmost terms the need to have fair elections. If they get the blessings of their superiors to manouvre in any possible way to ensure a win is achieved, no doubt, they will resort to violence.
And critically, it is not a party that enjoys the majority support that implements dirty tricks. It is that which no longer trusts itself in terms of stamina and appeal. When the going gets tough, like Mike Tyson, it can bite Evander Holyfield’s ear!
BY GUMISAI NYONI