Candid Comment: National Healing Should Start Now

THE MDC announced that it was pulling out of today’s presidential run-off because of the continued violence that characterised the pre-election period.

 

Its supporters have been assaulted and brutalised by those that believe hook, line and sinker the claims of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

More than 70 have so far been reportedly killed in the violence, some having lost limbs and some having been torched together with their properties.

The police are however yet to confirm these deaths.

About 200 000, Tsvangirai told journalists, had been internally displaced and several hundreds unaccounted for. All this in the name of campaigning for Mugabe’s victory over “imperialists” and “colonial masters”.

The belief is that his withdrawal would put an end to the violence that has been condemned within and without the borders of Zimbabwe. Sadc, as the regional bloc, has condemned the violence while the international community has also weighed in with its condemnation.

There have been proposals for international action over the Zimbabwean government, including the intensification of sanctions. The events of last Sunday morning around the Harare Showgrounds — when the MDC was blockaded from staging a rally — were the last straw for the MDC leader as he bid to land the country’s top post, the presidency.

The roads were inaccessible. They were barricaded by youths clad in T-shirts emblazoned with President Robert Mugabe’s picture and the 100 % Empowerment: Total Independence message.

There were police officers standing aloof close to the Rainbow Towers as the youths went on a rampage, attacking perceived MDC supporters.

Some unfortunate supporters had just disembarked from buses from their rural areas and were caught up in the ensuing melee.

Their sin: Coming from rural areas to attend a rally addressed by Tsvangirai.

Sticks, stones, and catapults were used to attack and assault those that were caught wearing MDC regalia or simply suspected to be opposition supporters.

The attackers’ messages were sharp and direct: “There is no rally here!”; “Morgan Tsvangirai will not address any rally on earth, let alone in Zimbabwe. He will only address on the moon and if you want a rally, you rather go to the moon for that rally!”

This is in a country expected to hold what is supposed to be a free and fair election whose outcome would produce a legitimate president whose stay in office would be respected by all, within Africa and beyond.

It is one’s belief that the conduct of any government leads to its respect which is key to attracting investment, creation of jobs and economic growth. The events on Sunday were a bad advert for the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.

One aspect of Sunday’s debacle was the manner in which people were attacked. It is clear that Zimbabweans have lost all respect for human life. Victims were ordered to lie down on their stomachs and beaten with logs on their backs and buttocks. Some were attacked with stones as they tried to free themselves from their attackers. As a witness, I saw more than 15 people who had collapsed after the attack.

Ambulances had to be called to ferry the seriously injured ones to hospital while police water tankers were summoned to quell the violence.

Paramilitary policemen who escorted the water tankers watched the proceedings from inside their vehicles.

As for observers, it was really an eye-opener. One of them prolaimed: “I came to Zimbabwe in March for the first election. The situation was different from what I am seeing now. This is truly the same situation we witnessed in Kenya.

“I thought reports of violence that have been given in the international media were false,” he said. “But I can now see that these reports are true. What is this we are witnessing today?”

It remains to be seen whether the violence will end now that the election that most within Zanu PF have been yearning for is being held today.

After the election, the ZEC will surely declare that President Mugabe romped to victory and declared him the duly elected president.

It boggles the mind whether this country will ever return to normalcy after the run-off election. The effort and resources that has been expended in chasing after political rivals should have been directed at improving social services and creating jobs. To use the old adage about beating swords into ploughshares, how about converting all those trucks that have been criss-crossing the countryside into ambulances or release them to police stations to improve responses to crime scenes? I dare ask what happened to trucks used in Operation Sunrise?

Youths should be “demobilised” so that they cease being agents of terror but instruments of development. Do we hate each other so much? The nation needs healing and this should start now.

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