The State will deal decisively with instigators and perpetrators of political violence and will move with speed to institute a strong legislative response to thwart incidences of violence ahead of next year’s elections, President Mnangagwa has said.
Writing in his weekly column for The Sunday Mail, the President warned political leaders against instigating violence, saying this signalled a “collapse of morality in echelons of leadership.”
He said there was a misconception that political violence was endemic in Zimbabwe.
Instead, he said, certain political players take advantage of impending international gatherings to provoke violence in the country for the attention of their handlers and portray Zimbabwe as a nation perpetually at violence.
His warning follows an orgy of political violence that erupted in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, following the discovery of the remains of a slain local woman, Moreblessing Ali.
Two Citizens Coalition for Change legislators — Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole — are in remand prison facing charges of inciting public violence during Ali’s funeral wake.
“While we have always been aware that the opposition takes advantage of international gatherings — Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM in this case — to provoke situations of violence in the country for the attention and gratification of their Western godfathers, no one ever thought the opposition would abuse the severed remains of a slain woman for the same debased end,” he said.
“The remains of Moreblessing, whose politics while she lived appear unknown or contested, became more than a family tragedy; it became an uninvited and certainly an undeserved curse on the otherwise peaceful Nyatsime Community.
“We now know how vile politics blight peace and harmony in communities.”
He said the thugs behind the Chitungwiza violence spree had “no demonstrable claim on, or attachment to her, whether political or biological.”
He added: “They came from outside Nyatsime for the sole purpose of causing havoc.
“They were outsiders who came from afar for the sole purpose of importing and causing havoc in a community to which they were strangers.”
President Mnangagwa said his Government will instigate a swift response to preempt any forms of violence during next year’s polls.
He said to curb political violence, there was need for a holistic response from all three arms of State.
The Executive, said the President, was ready to act its part fully.
“Elections are about competing on ideas and for ballots; they are not about descending into orgies of violence and arson as happened in Nyatsime, and as happened in 2018 and 2019,” he said.
“We are ready to act decisively against perpetrators of political violence, whoever they may be.
“There will not be any sacred cows in respect of this vice, no impunity whatsoever.
“This is our vow going forward.”
Parliament, said President Mnangagwa, must move with speed and introduce legislation to curb political violence.
On their part, legislators should aspire to be merchants of peace in their communities, he added.
“The spectre of political violence requires a strong legislative response which makes it abundantly clear this society does not condone violence, and will not spare the rod of law against it.
“Our duty is to ensure our law enforcement agencies have adequate laws to preempt and deal with political violence wherever it is likely, or where it occurs.”
The President said peace demands that political leaders, including legislators “genuinely disavow violence as members, actors and leaders of political parties.”
“Nyatsime was about violence deployed and orchestrated from above.”
He said the 2013 Constitution, a product of multi-partisan cooperation, clearly abhors violence in all its forms. It emphasises the primacy of rule of law and due process “over whims and violent reflexes, in the pursuit of rights and interests.”
“That Constitution and all the statutes below it provide no hiding place for violence, or those associated with any form of violence, including that inspired by base politics.
“In interpreting the law, our courts must draw a clear line in the sand, so there is no hesitancy or vexations on matters involving political violence.
“Once convicted, perpetrators of violence should and must know they are in for a long and painful custodial haul.
“Only that way do we send a clear signal to merchants of violence, and to the rest of society, that violence does not pay.”
— Sunday Mail