Magura’s gruesome murder, is one of many political killings seen recently, joining those of Tonderai Ndira, Beta Chokururama and many others who were murdered in cold blood. The stoning to death of Magura and other such killings have become part and parcel of the political DNA of Zimbabwean politics. It is a sure sign for doom as the country gears up for possibly two competitive public political processes within the next 12 months — the constitutional referendum and general election.
Death in any situation is a disturbing prospect, but murder for purposes of political gain is disquieting, especially when nothing is then done about it. What is even more disquieting is the tendency by Zimbabweans to sit idly by and watch as situations spiral out of control. The guiltiest party in this exercise of inaction is largely the police and prosecution services which make them complicit in politically-motivated violence.
What is even more worrying in the case of Zimbabwe’s police and prosecuting authorities is that the consent and sponsorship of politically-motivated violence and extra-judicial killings is sometimes not even silent. On numerous occasions, top officials from the police force and the Attorney General’s office have openly spoken in support of it. This shocking unprofessional conduct is not only well-documented in the public sphere but is also drilled into police recruits and professionals serving in the AG’s office. This explains why the police allegedly watched idly as Magura was being brutally murdered.
The generality of Zimbabweans are also to blame for what happens. When signs of things going bizarre start showing, the tendency among Zimbabweans to retreat into their cocoons and wait for the situation to deteriorate before they think about preventative action. Some escape to safer havens created by the proactive actions of citizens of those countries.
This attitude is in stark contrast to situations elsewhere. For instance, the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in January of 2011, which was blamed on the Tunisian authorities because of the reasons he burnt himself for, sparked a public response that eventually toppled a brutal 29-year-old regime. In stating the above, we are not calling for self-immolation or even for the toppling of the Zimbabwean regime, in spite of its transgression — all we are simply doing is drawing attention to the fact that our dereliction of responsibility as citizens in terms of forcing our authorities to act when action is demanded, may just be pushing us towards a deeper hole of political violence, than we are already in.
The tell-tale signs of the country sliding back into a violent epoch have never left us, and are already starting to indicate catastrophe as we head for elections. This is especially so if the elections are held, as Zanu PF would want, in the absence of meaningful democratic and electoral reforms.
The GNU still has the opportunity to save the country from doom by holistically dealing with the issue of violence and starting to take corrective action instead of paying lip-service to a scourge that continues to affect Zimbabweans from all walks of life. Convening conferences where leaders pledge peace with one lip while the other lip is preaching violence will not address the issue of violence.
The key drivers of violence in Zimbabwe are impunity and selective application of the law. Our society and the legal system have adequate measures that can deter perpetrators of political violence. The challenge is that Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri is presiding over a police force that oftentimes ignores its duty or carries it out selectively. The other challenge is Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who presides over a prosecution service that applies the law in a typical Orwellian style, where some animals are more equal than others and therefore immune to prosecution.
The failure to arrest and prosecute is now putting the country to shame through having other jurisdictions like South Africa being compelled by their own justice systems to investigate the political violence that occurred in Zimbabwe in 2008. That precedent of inaction on political violence is certainly going to give impetus to more violence since it has become apparent that one can get away with crime depending on one’s political disposition.
BY BELOVED CHIWESHE