Leaders must avoid hate speech at rallies


LATE in October last year, when Zanu PF was burning with strife generated by power struggles fomented by its internal vote, we warned that political violence was taking root in the country and could easily escalate as we move towards general elections.

Our fears have since been vindicated by the latest developments in the political trenches where precious life was lost and several people injured recently when Zanu PF supporters stormed a Citizens Coalition for Change campaign rally. in Kwekwe.

What is worrying is the sharp increase in cases of violence in all regions where partial elections are scheduled.

It is also discouraging to note that despite the escalation of incidents of violence, the main political leaders continue to turn a blind eye to this scourge which could easily escalate into civil unrest if it escalates.

We all understand the importance of these by-elections as they serve as a simulation for all major parties ahead of next year’s general election. But it is up to politicians, especially the ruling party, to reject this culture of violence and ensure that a peaceful environment prevails as elections approach.

It’s not hard to see why violence persists in Zimbabwean politics, especially when the Zanu PF feels its political hegemony is threatened by Nelson Chamisa’s CCC.

Here is what Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, a former military commander, said at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s homecoming rally in Kwekwe recently: “I heard others here say down with the triple C, let I assure you there is nothing he can accomplish. , you see how lice are crushed with a stone.

“You put it on a flat stone, then you flatten it so much that even the flies won’t make a meal out of it.”

As he spoke, police were busy gassing opposition CCC supporters in Gokwe to prevent Chamisa from holding a campaign rally at the centre.

It is the height of irresponsibility for a head of government to call people, even if they are rivals, lice. Mnangagwa has not reprimanded his colleague despite the danger such hate speech poses to the lives of the people he is supposed to lead.

It is comparable to the former Rwandan politician, Leon Mugesera, who described the Tutsis as “cockroaches” and called for their extermination. His inflammatory speech against the Tutsi minority in 1994 led to the death of 800,000 people in a genocide.

Overall, it falls to Mnangagwa and Chamisa to subdue their followers and avoid a bloodbath. Zimbabweans are tired of contested elections, so Mnangagwa and Chamisa owe it to the nation to ensure the elections are conducted peacefully.

After the violence that has become synonymous with elections in Zimbabwe and the lessons learned from experience over the years, we expect the elections to take place in an environment free of violence because we have reached majority.

We expect mature leadership from all who lead our political parties and it begins and ends with Mnangagwa and Chamisa.

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