When presidential pardons become a curse

Presidential pardons for political violence are essentially a way of ensuring that those who are on the president’s side can commit political crimes without any consequences.

Pardons are tickets to commit violence again at the next election. Pardons for political violence might just be one of the key reasons why democracy keeps being strangled in Zimbabwe.

People take responsibility when they fully appreciate the consequences of the actions that they take. If the consequences for crimes are repeated pardons and more rewards, then whoever is in charge is promoting negative behaviour.

A lot of civilians lost their lives in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the mid 1980s. While the violence ended in the joining of two political parties, there are still a lot of wounds that have not healed – a lot of unanswered questions.

Political violence would raise its ugly head again in 1990 when there was a challenge on Zanu (PF)’s plans to make Zimbabwe a one party state. The late Patrick Kombayi who was on a ZUM ticket was shot by CIO agents.

The agents were convicted in the court of law but immediately pardoned by the president – they allegedly never spent a day in jail for attempted murder.

Apparently, those who attempted to murder Kombayi were actually rewarded with promotion and are still in great positions now. Zimbabwe’s own political violence ‘tumour’ was born and the president missed the opportunity to nip it in the bud. The precedent for promoting negative behaviour had been set and it would stalk our nation each time there was a contested election up to today.

There are estimates that those killed or missing at the last election are in the hundreds. Yet again, more promotions of the perpetrators have been reported.

Decomposing bodies are still being fished from lakes and disused mine shafts in Mashonaland East and Central. The cancer from the political violence tumour keeps growing. Sadly, the pardons have created a legacy that will be a curse for Zimbabwe for years to come.

Political crimes will continue to take place as long there is an expectation that such crimes will be pardoned, if not rewarded, once the elections are out of the way.

Accountability is one of the foundations of democracy. Violence free elections will not be possible without accountability for violence from past elections.

Zimbabweans must unite to deal with the past. It becomes difficult to see how we can share a future when we have killed each other’s families in our recent past. Those that do the pardoning and the rewarding of killers must ask themselves whether they would do the pardoning and the rewarding if it was their own sons and daughters who had been needlessly killed.

No more pardons please!

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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