Mugabe’s double-speak over violence

Robert Mugabe surprised delegates at the Zanu (PF) conference here last week when he blasted them for using violence to win elections.


The 87-year-old, long accused of relying on violence in his 31 year rule, had a dig at some of his lieutenants, saying they used violence to cow the electorate into voting for them.

“The point is, why we are afraid of the MDC if we believe we have the policies that can deliver Zimbabweans out of their problems? We in Zanu (PF) must denounce violence. It is not a cure to our problems. We do not need it. Let us adhere to our values and principles,” Mugabe is reported to have told stunned delegates.

Where did you vote?

Mugabe lost the presidential elections in March 2008 and relied on a murderous campaign of retribution to stay in power. Codenamed ‘Operation Mavhotera Papi -Where Did You Vote?’ units from the army, police and state security agencies targeted perceived opposition supporters countrywide.

The campaign is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 500 opposition supporters and maimed tens of thousands more. Eventually the mediation of the Southern African Development Community, led by South Africa, created a compromise coalition government which kept Mugabe firmly in power.

Mugabe has often been accused of preaching peace for the sake of international headlines while quietly urging supporters to ‘bash’ the enemy. As an example, during the Independence Day celebrations in April this year he called for an end to politically-motivated violence.

"Your leadership in the inclusive government urges you to desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society. As Zimbabweans, we need to foster an environment of tolerance and treat each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation," Mugabe said.

Evidence of violence

A day after Mugabe’s speech, MDC-T supporter Shadreck Malunga was assaulted by a group of soldiers at Chipadze Shopping Centre in Bindura. He was assaulted after refusing to contribute towards the independence celebrations for the province. He was rushed to hospital after sustaining deep cuts on the mouth, knees and ribs.

The violence continued in Hwedza, with war vets raiding villages and seizing shortwave radios, while in Epworth Zanu (PF) militants besieged the area, taking plots of land away from MDC supporters and forcing them to attend Zanu (PF) all night vigils. In Masvingo, notorious war vets leader Jabulani Sibanda was back in the province intimidating and threatening villagers to support Zanu (PF).

Cue another speech by Mugabe in September, when he opened a new session of parliament saying there should be no more political violence, but outside parliament his supporters were busy beating up people. Mobs of Zanu (PF) youths chanted slogans and turned on anyone who refused to respond to their slogans. Mugabe could stop the violence in Zimbabwe over night – if he really wanted to. – SW Radio

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