Peace rallies: Is Zanu PF sincere?

January 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

BY EDGAR GWESHE AND NQOBILE BHEBHE


THE proposed joint peace rallies by the parties in the coalition government
to end political violence in the country will not achieve the desired
results because Zanu PF has a tradition of not honouring its political
pledges, analysts have said.

The former ruling party has a history of publicly denouncing violence while
behind closed doors urging its supporters to decimate their political
rivals.

The rallies, a first of a kind in the country’s political landscape, are set
to be addressed by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and Welshman Ncube, leaders of MDC-T and MDC respectively.

But commentators said the peace rallies, a brainchild of Zanu PF, will give
Mugabe, whose rallies have of late been attended by fewer people, an
opportunity to address huge gatherings ahead of elections planned for this
year or 2013.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has said Zimbabwe cannot
hold free and fair elections without necessary reforms, a development which,
analysts said, flies in the face of Mugabe’s assertion that polls will be
held this year.

With the snail’s pace at which negotiations are going, reforms may take
another year or more, meaning polls might not be held this year.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said his party needed to see some key
issues addressed before committing itself to the peace rallies.

The rallies will, said analysts, achieve nothing, just like the organ on
national healing, reconciliation and integration, which failed due to the
leaders’ lack of political will to heal wounds of past atrocities.

Political analyst Lovemore Madhuku said that the proposed joint rallies were
not the panacea to ending political violence in the country.

“Political violence is not in any way addressed by joint rallies,” said
Madhuku. “It does not help when you speak about ending violence at political
rallies but privately you are encouraging people to go for violence.
Violence is not organised publicly, it is organised privately.”

In November last year, the three leaders together with other stakeholders
held an indaba on political violence but barely a week later a Zanu PF
militia group, Chipangano, started beating up suspected MDC-T supporters.
They ignored an appeal from Mugabe to end violence as they besieged market
stalls at a shopping complex in Harare, demanding the eviction of all
vendors perceived to belong to MDC-T.

Almost during the same time, Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo was quoted
urging his party supporters to retaliate whenever they are provoked, a
comment which does not bode well with the promotion of peace and
co-existence.

MDC-T has said at least 200 of its supporters were killed by Zanu PF militia
and state security agents during the 2008 violent elections. Most of the
perpetrators, though known, have not been brought to justice.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said ending violence requires political
will that lacks in the parties in the inclusive government. He said police
needed to operate in an impartial manner if political violence is to be
eradicated.

“What’s needed is the political will to stop violence. Police should
properly do their work and arrest all perpetrators of violence,” said
Mangongera. “In fact, the justice delivery system should work against the
perpetrators.”

In July last year, Zanu PF supporters went on the rampage disrupting the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill hearings at Parliament building where
some journalists were assaulted. After the skirmishes, Zanu PF secretary for
administration Didymus Mutasa said his party would defend their supporters
for their actions.

On the other hand, Mangongera views the joint rallies as positive in the
sense that it showed political leaders recognised that political violence
was pervasive in the country and needed to be addressed.

Ernest Mudzengi, another political analyst, who also believes political
violence can only be addressed if there is political will among the leaders
said, “It needs not end at conducting joint rallies alone.”

“There is need for other processes to complement these joint rallies. These
other processes must be driven by political will on the part of the key
political players. Yes, it’s a good step, but it must be complemented by
political will on the part of the party leaders.”

Bulawayo-based political commentator, Goodwill Phiri said while it is a
noble move, rallies on their own would not guarantee peace.
“The rallies without critical security reforms are just a hollow publicity
stunt by the three principals,” said Phiri.

“At this moment Zimbabwe does not need rallies but concrete security reforms
and full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).”

Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo laughed off the proposed rallies saying MDC
formations would be foolish to participate in such rallies as they will be
further entrapping themselves. “Firstly, those three parties want to create
a false impression to the electorate that they are the only political
parties in Zimbabwe. They are scared of inroads made by Zapu hence they want
to monopolise the political space” said Moyo.

“I find it very foolish for both MDCs to want to participate in such
rallies. I foresee a situation whereby Mugabe would address first and when
it’s the turn of Ncube and Tsvangirai, Zanu PF would provoke violence to
create the impression that MDCs’ supporters are violent.”

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