Is violent retaliation an alternative?

Ordinary Zimbabweans from all walks of life are united in one thing. They are sick and tired of the violence around them. When the Government of National Unity was formed, people were generally relieved for they thought that this would bring an end to politically motivated violence.

Violence only begets more violence.
Violence only begets more violence.

But, alas, nothing has changed. Violence is still the order of the day. The police, who are supposed to maintain law and order, and protect the vulnerable either look the other way or even join political thugs and hooligans in assaulting and maiming law abiding citizens. Many old-timers now look back to the days of colonial rule with nostalgia. At least there was law and order!

National culture

It is unfortunate, but true, that politically motivated violence has been with Zimbabwe for so long that it is now part and parcel of our national culture. There is now a generation which believes that politics is all about hatred and violence. They know nothing about negotiating and agreeing to disagree.

To them politics is all about violently taking, taking and taking. They know nothing about giving. The seeds of political violence were sown in 1963 when a number of nationalists became dissatisfied with Joshua Nkomo’s leadership of the dominant Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and were planning to form a break-away party, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

Their secret conspiracy was discovered and exposed at a rally, where Nkomo named the defectors-to-be and referred to them as sell-outs being used and paid by the colonialists to keep Africans in bondage. All hell broke loose. “They must be killed!’’, the crowd roared. Those of them who were there, including Enos Nkala, were lucky to escape with their lives.

Internecine war

From then on the fight for freedom from colonialism was forgotten and an internecine war between Zapu and Zanu was engaged in earnest with knobkerries, spears and axes as weapons. Hundreds were maimed and killed.

The war between Zanu and Zapu raged on and off even during the armed struggle. After independence, the inter-party war resumed culminating in the Gukurahundi massacres where thousands of innocent people died at the hands of their own soldiers. After this, Zapu was compelled to join Zanu and the new entity was renamed Zanu (PF).

After 20 years of Zanu (PF) rule some Zimbabweans led by Morgan Tsvangirai formed a new political party called the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Again, all hell broke loose as Zanu (PF) supporters sought to violently obliterate the new party.

People’s choice

When elections came in March 2008, the people made their choice and gave the MDC the mandate to rule. Zanu (PF) would have none of it and embarked on an orgy of violence.

Recently, Mugabe has changed his tune – calling for peace. But his followers continue to beat up innocent people. At one time they even entered the house of parliament and beat up MDC-T government officials while the police helplessly looked on.

The people of Zimbabwe are sick and tired of the violence, but what can they do? “Hapana chatingazviite. Mwari ndiye anoziva.” (There is nothing we can do about it. God knows what He is going to do).

At the recent funeral of an MDC founder who had suffered violence on several occasions at the hands of Zanu (PF) functionaries, the vice-chairman of the MDC, Morgen Komichi called upon MDC youths to meet violence with violence. He urged them to defend themselves, their parents and the people against “the unruly behaviour of Zanu (PF) youths.”

An old timer leaning on a walking stick said, “Yes, enough is enough! Zanu (PF) is no longer the majority party in the country, so why should a few Zanu (PF) youths be allowed to terrorise and scare hundreds of us. We must fight back!”

Mnangagwa’s threats

Others urge caution. They say retaliation means falling into the trap that Zanu (PF) has set. It will give them the excuse to order the police to arrest and torture the leaders and to let the army loose upon all those daring to defend themselves.

A recent editorial in the Zimbabwe Independent said “Remarks by Komichi can only make a bad situation worse. As much as they might feel aggrieved about the attacks on their members and the selective application of the law by the police, there is no justification to call for retaliation as this will inevitably lead to civil strife.”

There is a lot of sense in this warning. Already, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of Defence, has vowed to crush any possible revolt against Mugabe. He dismissed as wishful thinking that Zimbabweans could stage an uprising “similar to those that rocked North Africa recently”. He said that their friends, China and Russia, stood ready to aid the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to crush their enemies.

Violent retaliation is not the answer to our problems. For Christians it is not even an option to ponder upon. Christ said, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” (Mathew 5:38). In Hebrews 10:30 God says, “It is mine to avenge. I will repay.” Violence only begets more violence.

History shows us that the only sure way to defeat violence is through non-violent resistance. Zimbabweans need to follow a well-thought-out strategy of passive resistance in order to successfully confront the violence being unleashed upon them.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *