How to deal with Chipangano: time for ‘tough love’

Things really are changing. Our local political thugs are denouncing violence, but that leaves their troops confused. And they aren't the only ones.

We have heard Morgan Komichi exhorting MDC youth to hit back, and there is some evidence that some of them are ready to do that, while on the other hand we hear the likes of Welshman Ncube and Lovemore Madhuku saying “No violence! We must convince them by talking quietly and sensibly to them.”

Both sides of that argument have got it wrong.

If MDC do indulge in retribution, then they are using Zanu (PF) methods, and that is a habit that will be difficult to break when they get real power.

But have you tried talking sense to Chipangano's troops? When they are on the warpath, that's not worth trying. If they are in the mood to share their Zed and mbanje with you, they are likely to be dissociated from reality enough to prevent them following a serious conversation. You might create a friendly atmosphere if you recognise that. It might last, or it might not.

What they really need is the sort of “tough love” a good parent gives a naughty child.

That means resisting their efforts to do wrong firmly, but with no more force than is absolutely necessary. Some might need to be told, equally firmly but quietly, what is acceptable and what is not. The majority of the “foot soldiers” will respond better if you can present them with an attractive alternative; a lot of those in Mbare would jump at any chance to get off the streets and out of reach of Chipangano. The right carrot works better than to any amount of waving of big sticks.

In many ways they are naughty children, however big they may be. A good parent needs to be ready, if his or her naughty child starts a fight and comes out second best, to clean and bandage the wounds first and talk sense later. Some of our part-time political thugs have lost fights recently, only to discover that their minders were so busy dissociating themselves publicly from violence that these injured foot-soldiers become an embarrassment and get forgotten.

That is the time for anyone who doesn't judge people by the colour of their party card to recognise these unfortunates are human and exercise a little christian charity. Betadine and a roll of bandage could do more good than a year of preaching; finding them a place in hospital, if necessary, is better still.

Reflect on this story: A vendor was going back from Mbare Musika to Tafara when a gang attacked him. He fought them off, leaving one battered and seriously wounded in the dirt at the roadside.

(Nobody was going to report anything to the cops; that would only cause more trouble.)

A priest passed that way, and went by on the other side.

(That would only bring more trouble and, after all, he was already late for a meeting with the church women’s guild.)

A Chipangano boss passed by, on the other side, hardly looking at the injured man.

(He couldn't afford involvement; he's trying to be Mister Clean now.)

A Samaritan passed the same way . . .

(He'd taken three victims of that gang to hospital in the past month. What do you think he'll do now? What would you do?)

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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