Merchants of violence have no space in a democracy

THE political violence that broke at a rally in Harare’s Caledonia area yesterday must be condemned by all peace-loving Zimbabweans. In this day and age, we do not believe that people could decide to kill or maim their neighbour simply because they support different political gods. In any case elections come and go but we remain neighbours.

We urge the police to bring the culprits to book to deter other like-minded individuals. We believe it is time Zanu PF and MDC-T/MDC Alliance supporters learn to co-exist for progress sake. What happened yesterday suggests that all other political players other than Zanu PF are not welcome in that area. Sad, isn’t it?

While organisers of next week’s general elections should be commended for minimising ugly scenes of violence this far, we remain worried that the sporadic outbreaks being reported in various parts of the country could dent this otherwise incident-free poll.

Unlike the bloodshed and even deaths witnessed in previous polls, this year’s plebiscite has largely remained peaceful, with destruction of campaign posters and use of hate language being the only main forms of violence.

We would, however, like to condemn in the strongest terms possible the political violence witnessed in Harare yesterday and appeal to political candidates and their supporters within and across different parties to do some serious soul-searching and discard their violent ways.

Such incidents are detrimental to the gospel of peace that the majority of stakeholders in this election have been preaching.

We strongly urge the police to identify the culprits and see to it that they face the full wrath of the law. There is need to send a strong message to would-be offenders that this call to peace is not just mere talk, but should be seen to be done on the ground. It would be a shame if such things continued to happen as several international election observer teams are currently in the country.

It is our hope, however, that the culture of peace will persist this week, as the nation gets ready to cast the vote on Monday next week. We would like to urge the nation to ensure that the peace currently prevailing persists even after announcement of the results.

Remember, in March 2008, that the elections were held in a very peaceful environment, but violence reared its ugly head in June of that year after Zanu PF realised that they had failed to clinch an outright victory, pushing for a re-run whose campaign period saw many people killed and maimed in the name of politics.

It is our prayer, therefore, that as we have largely enjoyed a peaceful run up to this year’s elections, there would now not be any violence even after results have been officially released. We will continue to advocate for a peaceful environment. Only then, can the international community appreciate that we have matured in our politics.

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