Mugabe cannot claim moral high ground

In the past, President Robert Mugabe has eloquently described Zanu (PF) as a party well-schooled in violence. Few will forget his “We have degrees in violence” boast. His recent attack on MDC-T intra-party violence is therefore sickeningly hypocritical.

I was taken aback by his rhetoric last Saturday when, while addressing supporters and admirers in Marondera to mark his 90th birthday, he condemned the attack on Elton Mangoma and other top party members for calling on MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai to step down.

Granted, the violence perpetrated by MDC-T youths at Harvest House is unacceptable and flies in the face of a party that claims to be championing democracy. But I find it equally disgusting that Mugabe had the nerve to speak against violence in the opposition when his party has done so much worse in the past. He is the last person to mount an attack on MDC-T about violence.

Even though I found his speech in bad taste, I could not help but laugh at the glaring audacity he displayed when he drew parallels between MDC-T and Zanu (PF). For him, there is a clear distinction between the two parties in that Zanu (PF) is clean and MDC-T is violent. He claims opposition youths are hooligans and undisciplined while their counterparts in his own party are well trained and favourably mannered. Since MDC-T is violent, he added, it must not be allowed to rule.

If Mugabe really believes what he said and was not politicking, then something is terribly wrong with him. History is rich with anecdotes of how violent his party is and he must surely be conscious of this. Lest we forget, he is the one who boasted of “degrees in violence”.

I am not sure if his party has burnt those degrees and has suddenly started seeing sense in turning the other cheek, but events late last year do not demonstrate that. In the run-up to, during and after the party’s provincial elections in 2013, violence bigger than what we recently saw in MDC-T broke out among warring Zanu (PF) members.

This was the case especially in the Midlands and Mashonaland West. Party youths were also involved. Yet Mugabe hardly uttered a word about it. He did not tell us that Zanu (PF) was not fit to rule because its youths and top members were violent.

His failure to condemn violence within his party back them makes his recent remarks against violence empty. What is good for the goose must certainly be good for the gander.

This of course, is not the first time Mugabe has publicly condemned violence, yet his words have borne no desirable effect. In the past his party “youths”, some of them with greying hair, have beaten up people at Parliament even as he spoke in the august house. Needless to say, those who instigated the violence were never arrested.

I agree with Mugabe when he says violent politicians must not rule. It’s just that he and his party should be the first ones to go, considering their history. He allowed a violence-promoting campaign in the 2008 presidential run-off. The run-off campaign ran with the scary tagline: “27 June–Win or War!” That is not the kind of pitch any peace-loving leader should ride on during an election.

The rallying cry gave the Zimbabwean electorate no choice; they had to either vote Mugabe and enjoy possible peace, or vote Tsvangirai, who was competing against him, and be killed. That was the message and no-one can dispute this.

Thousands of people were kidnapped, beaten, raped and killed during the period leading up to the June 27 run-off that Mugabe “won” after Tsvangirai pulled out. It would always be difficult to believe that it was Tsvangirai who killed those people. He had won the first round in March and had no business killing voters, their children and relatives. That could only be done by someone who felt threatened.

Mugabe’s strategists and militias were the ones who maimed and killed. Even after being announced the “winner” in June 2008, he did not stand up to condemn the killers, did he? Many of the perpetrators of the violence still roam free.

I don’t know if the president has heard about Chipangano, a violent, unkempt and murderous outfit that was created by Zanu (PF) in Harare. The hands of member of this group literally drip with blood. These were the militias who terrorised anyone belonging to the opposition.

If he has not heard about it, I suggest he asks Amos Midzi, the Harare provincial leader, and the likes of Hubert Nyanhongo. Oppah Muchinguri, one of the top guns in the party, also has some idea about the group, even though she imagines it was created by MDC.

Without adequately addressing the violence in his own party, Mugabe cannot claim the moral high ground to condemn violence in the opposition. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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