ZRP urges leaders to stop hate speech

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has urged political leaders to desist from publicly trading insults as this fuels intra-party violence.

Augustine Chihuri: repeatedly refused to salute PM Morgan Tsvangirai.
Augustine Chihuri: repeatedly refused to salute PM Morgan Tsvangirai.

Speaking at a public meeting at a local hotel in Harare last week, ZRP Ass Comm, Rabson Mpofu, said the intolerance of political leaders tended to stoke politically motivated violence.

“Political leaders should not publicly insult their colleagues. This incites violence among their supporters and it sows seeds of disunity among the people,” said Mpofu, adding, “Political leaders may not throw stones themselves – but it is what they say that makes their supporters throw stones, so they should be cautious.”

Mpofu’s utterances come at a time when public faith in the ZRP has plummeted because of what many perceive as its partisan stance.

The Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, an avowed supporter of Zanu (PF), is among the cabal of security chiefs who have repeatedly refused to salute Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

In a vain attempt to absolve the force of allegations of extreme partisanship, Mpofu claimed: “We should not take away the fact that the police force is a child of a Zanu (PF) government, but we are fair in dealing with cases of violence. We practice discretion in arresting the perpetrators; sometimes wedon’t arrest them instantly but waitfor the right time to do so.”

Most of the violence witnessed in recent years has been perpetrated by the rank and file of political parties, at the instigation of their leaders. The police have, by and large, sided with the Zanu (PF) perpetrators.

Zanu (PF) leaders have received most of the blame for political violence, but there have also been reports of bloody fights in the MDC formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, mostly due to factionalism.

While inflammatory public insults have been going down of late, President Robert Mugabe is on record in the past saluting attacks on leaders of opposition parties, while his lieutenants are also guilty of hate language.

Tsvangirai’s MDC-T youth wing in the past proclaimed that it would retaliate against Zanu (PF) if the party continued victimising its supporters.

The ongoing nationwide restructuring process in Zanu (PF) ahead of the next general elections is fraught with incidences of violence. Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Stan Mudenge, a senior member of the party, was recently locked up by youths belonging to a rival faction.

Minister of Parastatals, Gorden Moyo, a top MDC-T official, said most cases of political violence were state sponsored.

“I have a document which shows that from 4 January to 8 May this year, the country witnessed 49 cases of state-sponsored violence,” he said.

Okay Machisa of ZimRights said the advent of the MDC in 1999 shocked Zanu (PF) into systematic violence as a strategy to retain power.

“Since 2000, political violence has increased because of the challenge the MDC poses to the former ruling party and this has caused unnecessary loss of life,” said Machisa.

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