The three parties in the unity government last week convened a meeting where President Robert Mugabe (Zanu PF), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC) jointly addressed their national executive members on violence.
They all urged the police to protect all citizens against violence, with Mugabe and Tsvangirai also talking about the need to form inter-party committees that would preach peace and reconciliation at grassroots levels.
But University of Zimbabwe lecturer turned MDC-T activist, John Makumbe rubbished the meeting as a futile exercise which would not stop political violence.
“I think the three leaders were genuine in everything they said but unfortunately, that was a futile exercise which is not going to change anything because JOC, the main perpetrator of violence in this country, was not involved so come election time, they will be sponsoring violence,” said Makumbe.
“There was no specific order from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga.”
Mugabe is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Makumbe, who has declared his intention to contest a parliamentary seat under an MDC-T ticket, said the police and army chiefs should have been given slots to address the gathering as well.
“The truth is it is the armed forces that are in charge,” he said. “Politicians may talk but won’t achieve anything.” MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said although doubtful of Zanu PF’s sincerity, his party was prepared to work with it to bring peace in the country.
“We are doubtful because Mugabe has spoken against violence before but we saw the opposite happening,” Mwonzora said.
“Recently, he was speaking against violence while addressing parliament and Kunaka and his Chipangano were beating up people, just a few metres away from him.”
Said Mwonzora, “We are very very doubtful that Zanu PF meant a word of what they said but we will be pleasantly surprised if they are genuine.”
The MDC-T has said at least 200 of its supporters were murdered by Zanu PF militia in the 2008 violent elections. Zanu PF has however, denied spearheading any form of violence.
Kunaka pledges to preach peace
Zanu PF’s Harare provincial youth chairperson Jim Kunaka, who has previously been accused of mobilising party youths to attack political opponents, said he will soon embark on a programme to encourage his party members to take heed of Mugabe’s pleas for peace.
“We are happy that Tsvangirai finally joined President Mugabe in denouncing violence and we hope his ward leaders will start going around urging their members to stop provoking us,” said Kunaka, who is linked to Chipangano.
“I am prepared to work with my counterparts in MDC in campaigning for peace.” Kunaka added: “But the leaders also need to now create more employment opportunities for youths because people are hungry and some of the fights, for example those involving market stalls, were purely over food and had nothing to do with politics.”