Zimbabwe is fast getting into election mode as is seen by the gradual rise of political visibility on events and in the media.
In the past two weeks, a series of events portraying harassment, aggression and violence were reported, affecting political leaders and in some instances, citizens. Cases have been recorded in Masvingo and Manicaland where ZanuPF members allegedly attacked MDC Alliance members in both cases.
In another isolated case during the same time frame, there were also incidents of violence that were also noted from a ZanuPF provincial coordinating committee meeting in Mutare.
This adds to a long list of events marking political violence that has marred the Zimbabwean political landscape since the colonial era.
Research has shown that violence is intertwined in Zimbabwe’s political history in various forms which include murder, beatings, rape, death threats, abductions, arbitrary arrests, torture, forced displacement, property damage, harassment, intimidation and terrorization.
In an ideal democracy, political parties must have the same and unfettered access to campaign in a free and fair election. A free election is absent of violence, intimidation and disruptions that discourage people from participation.
Such acts of violence denigrate the willingness of the people to actively participate in issues of national interest such as elections since we are in the voter registration phase.
A democracy applauds the forging of solidarity as a principal virtue of democracy. Citizens should participate actively in choosing who should lead them, critiquing the non-participatory views of those with power.
Political violence as a strategy is very retrogressive and is only used by ‘dinosaurs’. It is a thing of the yesteryears.
Investigations must be made. Those who perpetrate violence must be found and face the consequences of their actions. It is very discouraging that there is little or no action from institutions like the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to address this loud boon of political violence.
Political parties must also be pro-active in condemning violence amongst their ranks, from the ruling party ZanuPF stretching to opposition parties in the country as they are the largest purveyors of political violence.
As we move towards an inevitable by-election and the 2023 elections, all stakeholder approach must be taken to condemn all acts of violence as we strive for a peaceful and progressive election.