By Wilbert Mukori
Pluralism, political tolerance of opposing opinion, respect of other people’s right to a meaningful vote, etc.; these are not in our Zimbabwean political culture.
Our political culture is founded on the view that those not with us are against us and they must be crashed politically and physically with whatever we have at our disposal!
This is why Zimbabwe’s culture of political motivated violence was there before independence and has remained with us to this today, 36 years after independence.
The violence flares up, especially during elections. The worst case was during the presidential run-off elections in 2008 in which millions of people were subjected to harassment, beatings and/or raped and over 500 were murdered in an orgy of wanton violence carried out by Zanu PF thugs, war vets and State security personal.
The fierce factional war consuming Zanu PF shows that whichever faction wins will be determined to win the national elections. Meanwhile the worsening economic situation has galvanized the electorate to seek regime change as the only way out of this hell-on-earth.
So we have Zanu PF ready to use wanton brutal force to defend its no-regime-change mantra, on the one hand and on the other the electorate prepared to risk life and limp to get meaningful change and an end to the economic meltdown.
We are set for yet another violent election in 2018, a repeat of the 2008 or worse!
The right to a meaningful vote; to free, fair and credible elections is the foundation of good democratic and competent government; we are in this political and economic hell-hole precisely because for the last 36 years we have been stuck with an incompetent, corrupt and tyrannical regime.
So just get out of the hell-hole the people have to risk life and limp but it does not have to be this way. The right to a meaningful vote is universally enjoyed and without having to risk all.
It is the political leaders who have created and sustain Zimbabwe’s culture of political violence for their selfish political gain. Our political leaders; across the political divide being it the ruling party Zanu PF or the opposition parties MDC, ZPF, etc.; have all shown that they are incompetent and corrupt.
And so they have all without exception advocated for democratic change as a means to get into power and as soon as they are in power they have done everything in the power to stop undermine democracy including denying the vote the meaningful vote and even resorting to using violence to achieve their objective.
Over the weekend Zanu PF youths attacked ZPF supporters and nine needed hospital treatment. Two weekends ago it was MDC-T supporters who were attacked and twenty of needed hospital treatment. It is the political leaders who instigate the violence or else pay lip-service to ending the culture of violence.
Mugabe lost the presidential vote in the March 2008 elections and he instigated the operation “Mavhotera papi!” (Whom did you vote for!) unleashing the worst wanton violence against the electorate to force them to vote for him in the presidential run-off, the July 2008 vote.
“What was achieved by the bullet cannot be undone by the ballot!” Mugabe said repeatedly throughout operation Mavhotera papi. This was carte blanche licence to his party thugs, war vets and State Security personal, schooled in violence, to do as they pleased.
There is no question of Mugabe and Zanu PF wanting to implement the GPA democratic reforms that would dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship behind the culture of violence. The tyrant and his party lost their populous’ support years ago they need the system to remain in power.
“We condemn such barbaric acts in the strongest terms. It should never be allowed. This is a modern society and people should be able to express themselves without coercion,” said Rugare Gumbo, the ZPF spokesman, in response to the weekend attack of ZPF supporters.
“Zanu PF is violent and for us it is the way of the struggle. We have said, and will continue to say it, we are a non-violent party and we want to be allowed to hold our programs peacefully.”
Nonsense of course; Joice Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and the rest of the ZPF leaders were in Zanu PF until 2014 and for 34 years they have criticized Mugabe’s used of violence to achieve selfish political advantage! They all accepted the “barbaric acts” as “the way of the struggle”, as Mutasa has confirmed in his interview with Richard Chidza of the Standard newspaper. He was asked if he believed people should NOT fear government’s terror machine.
“Yes I do,” answered Mutasa. “But do not blame us for people being afraid. Blame those who are afraid. Let us encourage them to stand up and be counted.
“If they continue to be afraid of the State machinery, there will be still state machinery under ZPF and people will still be afraid. So the change we are promising them will not take place if people live in fear.”
Now that they are no longer in Zanu PF and with the benefit of hindsight; one expected ZPF leaders to be regretting that no GPA reforms were implemented to end the culture of violence. Sadly that is not the case. As far as these ZPF leaders are concerned the machinery such as the Police, CIO, etc. who have not only failed to end the culture of violence but have even taken part in the orgy of violence will remain. Mutasa’s solution is to “encourage people to stand up” to the dictatorship.
So if ZPF were to get back into power there will be no meaningful democratic reforms implemented and the culture of violence will continue as before.
MDC had the golden opportunity to implement the GPA reforms during the GNU and end the culture of violence. They failed to get even one reform implemented in five years and so MDC supporters, as with the rest of other innocent souls, are in for some more harassment, beatings, rape and, no doubt, many will be murdered in political violence.
Morgan Tsvangirai is on record telling his supporters to fight back; each time they have done so they have always ended up the greatest losers as the Police and the other State institutions have ended up on the Zanu PF side and MDC members are punished even more.
What Zimbabweans have been slow to appreciate is that our political leaders are, without exceptions, incompetent and corrupt; they all know that they would not stand a chance of winning the elections if Zimbabwe had a healthy and functioning democracy. The present dictatorial system of government has led to mismanagement and corruption and economic ruin, to political violence and denial of freedoms and basic human rights, etc.
Still, if it was not for the dictatorship Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies will not have remained in power for 36 years, Tsvangirai and his MDC friends would have never tasted power, MDC and ZPF leaders will not have any hope of being elected back on the gravy train, etc. This is why neither Zanu PF leaders nor the opposition will ever want the democratic reforms implemented. That people are risking life and limp in getting them elected into office is a small price to pay.
If the people are serious about ending the worsening economic meltdown, ending the culture of violence, etc. and restore all their freedoms, human rights and democratic governance then it is the people, not the political leaders, who will have to fight for the implementation of all the GPA reforms. The political elite are not interested!
Wilbert Mukori is a political commentator. He blogs here