THE statements by Zanu PF leaders and the Zanu PF-aligned police commissioner discouraging violence in next year’s parliamentary election came at the right time, but much more needs to be done to show their commitment.
For us, fighting for change and democracy, we know it’s just a smokescreen to hoodwink Sadc and the international community because from the year 2000 we have heard such statements, while on the ground the situation has been otherwise.
We know that a peaceful political environment is one where political contestants are free to campaign for voter support, free to express themselves and make their views known to the electorate without fear of intimidation or victimisation.
We have over the years lost a number of cadres in the democratic movement who were killed because they dared believe that they had an inalienable right to campaign for and support the MDC, the party of their choice without endangering their lives in the process.
Over the past years Zanu PF:
*has employed violence as a systematic political strategy in the run-up to elections;
*teachers, civil servants and rural villagers believed to support the democratic movement have been beaten up, kidnapped, tortured and some killed;
*homes and businesses of perceived opposition members in both urban and rural areas have been burnt and looted;
*schools and clinics in rural areas have been closed as teachers and nurses fled to the relative safety of towns;
*at every election time there has been general fear of war veterans, hired Zanu PF thugs and militia (green bombers) because of their capacity to instigate and inflict violence on the voters as they move from one area to another with;
*all-night forced Zanu PF political re-education meetings brutalised those forced to attend;
*Zanu PF has repeatedly refused to sign a multi-party code of political conduct outlawing violence and snubs meetings organised by church leaders to curb violence;
*opposition rallies have been broken up by hired Zanu PF thugs and rented crowds with the assistance of war veterans;
*stepped up the use of inflammatory language by its candidates against the opposition; and
*in many cases the police were reported to have looked on!
President Mugabe and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri should do more to make next year’s election violence-free, peaceful and the envy of Sadc.