Words must lead to action

President Robert Mugabe used the occasion of the recent Independence Day ceremony to call for peace. We applaud him for that. We hope the call was made in all sincerity. We pray his message was heard in the villages where Zanu (PF) thugs still beat up MDC supporters and burn their huts with impunity in the belief that they are doing what their President expects and requires of them.

We hope service chiefs Augustine Chihuri, Constantine Chiwenga, Perence Shiri, Paradzai Zimondi, Happton Bonyongwe and Valerio Sibanda were listening and will heed the call of the man they purport to serve and honour.

What we need now is not empty words, but action. We want tangible evidence that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have changed their ways. That they now endorse the people’s right to hold opinions that may be at variance with Zanu (PF)’s thinking. We now expect the police to arrest the perpetrators of violence – regardless of which political party they belong to.

Dare we hope that the time has come when Zimbabweans may enjoy peaceful sleep at night in the knowledge that they will be able to cast their vote without being terrorised by a variety of means, before, during and after elections, to vote for Zanu (PF).

Can we trust the police to arrest Joseph Mwale and the now countless other murderers who have been identified by their victims? Can the relatives of all those people killed at election time in the past hope to see closure to their many unanswered questions?

Zimbabwe desperately needs peace. It needs reconciliation. It needs justice. We need to move forward. We need to develop so that we can all have jobs, food, housing, well-stocked hospitals and good schools. This can only happen in a peaceful environment. With Mugabe’s Independence Day speech, a start has been made. Let us all do whatever it takes to make this a reality. Pleas for peace should not be used as a PR exercise reserved only for national occasions. From now on we expect all our leaders, regardless of political persuasion, to call for peace at every possible opportunity.

On the front page of this newspaper we carry a story detailing the late Solomon Mujuru’s wish for peaceful elections in our country. He told US diplomats he had arranged a barbecue (braai or gochi-gochi in local parlance) at his Chikomba rural home for rival candidates in 2002. This is a practical example that should be emulated by all our leaders.

Unless we see practical steps being taken by Zanu (PF) leaders, any chance of true peace will remain a pipe dream.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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