Eye for an eye will make us blind
The recent call for peaceful elections later this year by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is one that people should take heed of.
Addressing thousands of mourners at the funeral of his deputy, Vice President John Landa Nkomo, President Mugabe said: “We want peaceful elections. Let us take advantage of the calm and peace we have today.”
Natan Zach, an Israeli poet, in one of his sonnets emphatically condemned violence against any people of any race saying “political violence, leading to war reminds me of the failure by men to grasp the consequences before tragedy strikes”.
However, political conflict is intertwined with our understanding of war’s most tragic consequences, as said by Zach: “…It should not be the desire of politicians to kill, to rape, to crush, and to exterminate your enemy, your opponent, your next door neighbor, the suspicious stranger, or just every man, woman and child in the world because you love an ideology.”
It is political violence in some North African and Middle Eastern states that has claimed the lives of innocent people hence the firm call by President Mugabe should be taken seriously; and not just by Zimbabweans, but by people from all over the world.
Organised political violence engages civilians in previously unprecedented extents, raising vexing questions about how to distinguish combatants from victims, and who has the right to make the distinction.
There is a concrete need to answer political questions with the ballot rather than the bullet for us to cement our democratic growth and provide a platform for peaceful development.
We should do this not to please the West, but to please our own societies.
Too often in Africa, opposition political formations thrive on instability, which they either create or foment so that they can gain mileage and eject ruling parties. Ruling parties tend to respond to such instigation in typical ways: force with force.
The result is chaos and anarchy which none of us really needs.
Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to China, the political analyst Christopher Mutsvangwa, is on record saying “what opposition parties do is like a small boy who claps his elder brother and when the elder brother beats him back, he goes to the father crying as if he is innocent”.
In Zimbabwe these “cry babies” look to SADC, the African Union, the United Nations and Western capitals.
They go there and play the role of victims and yet they have masterminded the violence. It is common knowledge that whenever there is a major international meeting of Heads of State and Government around the corner, there is an upsurge in reports of violence in Zimbabwe.
This is calculated to draw censure for Zimbabwe’s leaders and hopefully prod the “international community” to act more forcefully to remove ZANU-PF from office.
This means that ZANU-PF, which is President Mugabe’s party, must find ways of intercepting the violent intentions of its political foes so that the problem is nipped in the bud.
When political leaders instigate violence and they are arrested, they continue to play the victim card by claiming that they are being systematically persecuted, harassed and tortured.
It is time political leaders and their supporters get out of the confrontational mode and take a look at how the situation in Syria has been manipulated to the point where it has degenerated so terribly.
It is very easy for outsiders to manipulate political disputes so that they explode into civil wars. Is this what the people of Zimbabwe and Africa want?
Political parties and their leaders should preach tolerance to their followers, so that when Zimbabweans are dealing with issues from different political backgrounds they do not forget the national interests of the country that bind us all together.
No life should be lost because of someone’s political aspirations, we are not living in the animal kingdom where literal survival of the fittest is the norm.
Politicians should ask themselves who they will rule if all people succumb to political violence in order to pave way for their ascendancy. Graves or ghosts, certainly not!
Truly an eye for an eye will turn the whole nation blind.
Coercion has no place in modern day democracy, a party should thrive to sell its ideologies to the masses and should not employ violent tactics.
Others get on the map for the wrong reasons and to be relevant they continue on their destructive path. Like parasites which suck the blood of its host, politics should not draw satisfaction in the spilling of the blood of the people.
For this, I say kudos to President Mugabe’s call!