Politicians must discourage culture of violence

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

I am very alarmed by the state of politics in our country. Those who have come forward, offering themselves to serve us and the country seem to be barren of any meaningful ideology that our people can hold on to.

They fight among themselves instead of collectively thinking on behalf of the nation.

There is hardly anything to choose from among members of all parties as all politicians evolve into unfeeling, blind and selfish schemers.

Our politics is imbued with subliminal threats of violence at a time when we should have learned enough about violence, from ourselves to ourselves.

I have felt very uncomfortable with Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF for decades and now I am alarmed by Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC. Just where are these two organisations headed? I am compelled to ask what they want because their behaviour shows an unfortunate underestimation of the people’s wishes and hopes.

They all do not consider the masses as allies but patronisingly view the people as moronic slaves who shout slogans regardless of the dismal performance of the leadership across the political divide.

Our culture of violence has taken root so much that we lace our daily talk, let alone campaigns, with threats, intimidation and violence, not to mention murder, rape and vice.

Even our bishops no longer see the irony in them caring revolvers on their hips.

A  few weeks ago, MDC youth leader Solomon Madzore told his party’s supporters that they fear only God and are ready to die for Tsvangirai because “this time we are going to make sure that our leader Morgan Tsvangirai goes straight into the State House after winning elections and no one will stop him”.

In other words, if their colleagues in the unity government misbehave, Madzore is promising the Zimbabwean people violence because that is how Mugabe remained in State House after losing elections.

Was it the people’s fault that things turned out the way they did in the 2008 elections? And, should the same scenario repeat itself, can Madzore and his party faithful bulldoze their way into State House without sacrificing a single innocent life?

We are being used as fodder and I would have hoped that the MDC would achieve its goals away from violence.

We don’t need guns to win a war; we don’t need stones and weapons to subdue dictatorships. All we need are clever, wise people.

The MDC must be careful not to adopt incendiary tactics that have seen thousands of people killed at the hands of ZANU-PF.

Just a few days ago, Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi expressed grave concern at the type of leadership Zimbabwe has today.

“I am still like an old record, stuck in 1980 and its servant leadership philosophy: It is the Zanu PF of 1980, and its founding republic ideology of people we worship, leaders we respect, that I reminisce about,” Mzembi said.

And weren’t those early days and months of independence just wonderful?
Mzembi urged us “to pray to rid this country of the curse of entitlement ahead of the rest, and replace it with the more magnanimous principle of equal access and equity, seeking to redistribute wealth equally”, saying that the people must generally feel that, in their leaders, they have friends in high places.
Was anyone in or outside ZANU-PF listening when Mzembi said that: “Our people need us to be their intercessors, for it is impossible to lead properly without a great sense of empathy? If our leadership does not inspire hope that our best days are ahead, then we have to revisit the vision.”

I wish it were just not talk for we have heard more fiery speeches like this from ZANU-PF and from Mugabe himself but all coming to naught as we buried our dead we lost to political violence.

At a graveside speech, Reverend Kamupira, the chaplain general of Nyaradzo Funeral Services, was forced to address the issue of political violence in Zimbabwe and blamed both ZANU-PF and MDC leaders for incidences of political violence.

On his part, Tsvangirai said political leaders should not be at the forefront of inciting political violence.

“I heard Mugabe said he is going to fight like a wounded lion while speaking at his Gweru congress over the weekend,” Tsvangirai said. “The people of Zimbabwe know what they want when voting. They will determine at the right time, the person they want to be their leader and not through political violence.”

He added that even though he now dines at the same table with Mugabe, he knows that some of our politicians want to start the spirit of violence, adding that: “As leaders preparing for elections, we must be preaching peace to our supporters.”

We can no longer exonerate the MDC from all the bad things happening in our country because it choose to be part of this government and is reaping the benefits of being in government, so they are equally to blame with ZANU-PF.

We would like to see a concerted effort in the removal of violence from our midst. We would like to see both parties, both leaders and their followers being serious enough in the eradication of violence.

The politics of intolerance must come to an end so that people can get on with their lives without fearing the backlash from voting for a particular candidate.

The MDC has a perfect opportunity to lead by example but they are slowly tarnishing themselves through mimicking disgraced ZANU-PF mannerisms.

The heart of the matter is that the people of Zimbabwe are tired of the abuse by their own politicians and by the international community. It is of utmost importance that this time around, the political parties sit down and agree on an aggressive policy of no violence before, during and after the elections.

The MDC could be stronger were it not borrowing ZANU-PF mannerisms. They could be more believable were they to come back together and fight elections as one. After all, Welshman Ncube and his unelected gang have nothing to lose but everything to gain because, on their own, they will not be going any further than they have come.

Indeed, a vote for MDC-N is a vote for ZANU-PF.

These two groups need to be reminded that uniting to fight an enemy does not give the advantage to one but to both. They must be informed that uniting does not mean giving up their own visions for the nation; uniting is simply clearing the bush so as to work in a better and accommodating environment.

We need our politicians to wake up to their responsibilities as people who survive on public trust. They must abandon the siya-so politics that has turned then into hypocrites and desensitised lawmakers.

All the political parties in Zimbabwe must instruct their subordinates in the use of proper language starting this very moment because some language is more incendiary than helpful and the people of Zimbabwe need a break with the past, starting with the arrival of peaceful campaigns.

The political parties must tell their party operatives to move away from statements that may provoke violence.

Why does Madzore tell a rally that it is necessary to die for Tsvangirai?

It is better to die for Zimbabwe. Speeches that subliminally allude to violence must be ended.

As for Mugabe, well, he has soiled himself beyond any help but yet, he could make us all re-write history to include him in better light were he to practice statesmanship he learned from the school we sent him to and at which he remained for 33 years.

People will always have differences and having differences does not mean killing each other. Mugabe and his people must realise that Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans have been very kind to them…and patient with them.

It wouldn’t hurt if they, for once, gave us back our peace and let us leave normal lives and reclaim our rightful places in the world of well-meaning nations.

The politicians of Zimbabwe have one thing in common, they all depend on Zimbabwe and we cannot tolerate those among us who pee into the drinking well when others are out clearing the fields.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, December 13, 2012.


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