ZIMBABWEANS watched in horror this week shocking scenes of violence as rowdy MDC-T youths attacked the party co-vice-president Thokozani Khupe and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and threatened to torch a thatched hut in which they had sought refuge after being assaulted.
Candid Comment Faith Zaba
Khupe and Mwonzora on arrival at the burial of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s burial in Buhera had to scurry for cover as youths chanting “(Nelson) Chamisa, Chamisa” (the party’s acting president) jeered, heckled, manhandled and threw stones at them. This was done in the full glare of dignitaries including diplomats from Western countries and Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. The two are among senior party officials opposed to the manner in which Chamisa seized control of the party the day after Tsvangirai died.
Khupe has been boycotting meetings called by Chamisa in protest over what she described as unconstitutional ascendancy to the presidium. She feels that as the only elected vice-president she should be the acting president until an extraordinary congress is convened. Chamisa is opposed to this, saying he was elected constitutionally by the national council and has ruled out calling for an extraordinary congress arguing that the election of the party’s next leader can be legally done by the council.
It was disheartening watching Khupe narrate her ordeal. It was shocking to hear that the hooligans labelled her a dissident, who should go back to Matabeleland region. It is disgraceful to use such hate speech at a time the country is grappling with the Gukurahundi issue, which has remained emotive in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, where over 20 000 innocent civilians were reportedly killed at the instigation of former prime minister Robert Mugabe, as the Zanu PF government claimed to be pursuing dissidents in those areas. Use of such derogatory terms that were synonymous with those employed to commit the acts of genocide in the 1980s are simply unacceptable. This is in addition to scandalous comments also made by the youths that the country is not ready to be ruled by a woman, despite females making up more than half of the country’s population.
A truly democratic party is one that can tolerate divergent views and not resort to violence or intimidation.
Politicians must just argue their case based on the constitution and pertinent issues. Violence is why people with alternative ideas shy away from politics.
All party leaders, including Chamisa, must be unequivocal against political violence. There is no room for half measures. Violence is violence. It is unacceptable. The argument that the youths could have been Zanu PF infiltrators does not hold water and is not a valid excuse. MDC-T should take ultimate responsibility because it was their gathering. The buck stops with the MDC-T leadership.
It is also unfortunate that MDC-T waited 24 hours to condemn the violence.
The MDC-T has time without number criticised Zanu PF for violence and intolerance. Tuesday’s shameful events show that, to use Biblical terms, they have to look at the log in their own eye before the speck in the eyes of others.