Zero tolerance for violence

There is no way an election can be deemed to be free and fair unless political violence is stopped completely. Statistics amassed by various human rights groups and the opposition show that violence has continued unabated throughout 2007, and continues to rise. The police, custodians of the law and protectors of civilians in any true democracy, not only condone this violence, but are among the major perpetrators.  

The opposition has raised the issue with both the Zimbabwe government, in the person of the minister of Home Affairs, and with the South African government – with President Thabo Mbeki himself. He in turn has raised it with Mugabe, who has, in blatant deceit, dismissed the claims as baseless.  

There has been no investigation on the part of government into the allegations. What is needed now is an impartial, preferably international, body to mount a proper investigation into political violence in the country today.

In the run-up to the 2008 elections, such a body should be tasked with reporting incidents of political violence to the various contestants, as well as ensuring that they are thoroughly investigated by the police and the perpetrators prosecuted.  The contesting parties should commit themselves to not pardoning these thugs after an election victory – as has become standard practice under Mugabe’s rule.  

There should be zero tolerance for any political violence and this should be clearly and emphatically communicated to party supporters at every level.  

The MDC would be foolhardy to sign up to any agreement with Zanu (PF) while this issue has not been dealt with adequately. Any resulting election will not reflect the true will of the people, neither will it be accepted by the international community. Our problems will simply continue.  

Because of the secrecy surrounding the Mbeki talks, Zimbabweans are only aware of the apparent success of Zanu (PF) in hoodwinking the opposition into supporting its 18th amendment to the constitution. No concessions as promised by Zanu (PF) have yet become reality. For the average person in the street, notably MDC supporters, life has simply got worse.  

In this regard, we are surprised at Welshman Ncube’s recent statement that the talks are going well. He obviously knows something we don’t. The sooner any positive development can become public knowledge, the better.  

Word for Today

The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. … I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27, 1-3,13,14

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