Anti-violence indaba: A good start but…

The historic meeting of the top echelons of the three political parties in the government of national unity last week was celebrated as marking the beginning of an end to the culture of political violence and impunity in this hurting country.

Since the holding of that meeting, and at the time of writing this instalment, there has not been any report of political violence in the country and our hope is that the situation will remain peaceful. It was quite encouraging to watch the leaders of the three parties taking turns to speak strongly against political violence without sniping at each other. The meeting demonstrated that, indeed, a better and more peaceful Zimbabwe is attainable if we all shun political violence.

It was also heartening to watch the audience applauding all the speakers when they said significant and positive statements without regard to the political party they came from. That is the way political business should be conducted in a democratic country.

Unfortunately, the whole exercise might well turn out to be futile since it excluded the major perpetrators of political violence in this country – the security forces.

Zimbabweans are well aware of the fact that our soldiers, policemen and women, and our intelligence agents are the major sponsors and implementers of political violence in this country. Why were they left out of this historic gathering of the forces of governance?

Their exclusion from the exercise may have the implication that they do not buy into the high-sounding ideals that the political leaders were spewing last Friday. This may also mean that political violence will continue in this country since the real forces behind the scourge were not invited to utter even one word at the august occasion.

The Anti-violence Indaba sought to give the impression that our civilian leaders – thepoliticians – are in charge of national affairs in this country. Nothing can be farther from the truth. We all know that even President Robert Mugabe is no longer in charge of the governance of this country. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiarai recently decried the reality that there had been an effective military coup in this country, and civilian leaders were no longer in charge.

Without the commitment of the security structures to non-violent political activities, there will not be an end to political violence. It would have been smart to get all the chiefs of staff that regularly congregate as the Joint Operations Command to stand before the nation, together with the political leaders, and commit themselves to non-violence. This did not happen and is very unlikely to happen in the near future.

We also witnessed the President defending the partisan activities of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, in spite of the numerous occasions that this outfit has disallowed MDC-T, MDC-N and Zapu meetings and political rallies while allowing those conducted by Zanu (PF) to proceed unhindered.

There was no mention whatsoever of the ugly role played by the elements of the national army in the 2008 violence. Was this deliberate, to avoid annoying the guys with the guns?

The sad fact remains that these guys will still have the guns come the next election, and they will still have the penchant for political violence in favour of Zanu (PF) and against the rest of the people of this country. A significant opportunity to make them buy into non-violence may have been missed last Friday, and this nation may pay very dearly for this unfortunate omission. It would be absolutely wonderful, however, for this columnist to be proven wrong on this issue. Violence begets violence.

Post published in: Politics

Leave a Reply

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