Zimbabweans Gripped By Violence Fears As Tension Builds

Zimbabweans Gripped By Violence Fears As Tension Builds
Published: 2016 June 27 08:53:11 (3435 Views)
Political and social tensions are escalating in Zimbabwe amid preparations for the impending 2018 election campaigns.
 
The violent streak in our politics remains a cause for concern and one may never know which matchstick will cause an uncontrollable inferno.

President Robert Mugabe’s recent description of war veterans as dissidents and the threats to crush those stoking succession talk have not made things any easier.

A NewsDay (ND) reporter Richard Chidza talked to the Zimbabwe Peace Trust (ZPT) executive director Trust Mamombe (TM) about these and the tension caused by government’s failure to pay its workers timeously. Below are the excerpts:

ND: Given Zimbabwe’s economic, political and social problems, to what extent is this a threat to national peace and stability?

TM: The threat to peace and stability is by and large premised around political and socio-economic problems. That we have socio-economic problems in Zimbabwe is not new. However, what has become dangerous now is that these problems have been prolonged and they is now a growing sense of hopelessness and despondency and a conviction by the people that they are being taken for granted. The major threat to peace now has become a growing constituency of discontent that has absolutely nothing to lose. Our stockpiles of peace are indeed fast diminishing.

ND: Mugabe recently raised the spectre of another Gukurahundi following his description of war veterans as dissidents, how close is Zimbabwe to a violent implosion?

TM: The statements by the President are unfortunate. For a man with such a high English command, he could have easily used other synonyms. Notwithstanding that, two things must not be ignored here. Many if, not all, incidences of violence have been catalysed by the recklessness of the little organ in the mouth — the tongue. Secondly, I am convinced that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks! That Mugabe said these words is cause for concern and disturbing from a nation and peace building perspective!

ND: As ZPT, what are you doing to help politicians tone down on rhetoric and hate speech?

TM: The ZPT’s unreservedly condemns all manner of reckless and inciting utterances from across the political divide. We call upon all leaders to exercise restraint and always bear in mind that they shall be held accountable for any uncircumcised utterances. We call upon all to realise that with the tongue, we can build tolerance and with the same tongue we can destroy!

ND: Would you describe Zimbabwe as a peaceful or fearful country?

TM: Zimbabwe is a relatively peaceful country. However, more than any other country in southern Africa, Zimbabwe has witnessed vicious cycles of violence for that past 100 years. With the nature of the violence in Zimbabwe, it becomes critical to be weary of times like these when all the ingredients for violence look like they are firmly in place. I do not agree that Zimbabweans are fearful. No! Case in point is that Zimbabweans with or without State support do occupy spaces they deem necessary. The vendors have occupied Harare. If one cannot see that defiance then they are blind. Examples are galore; on these acts of defiance including even the land occupations which people ascribe to the regime.

ND: Failure by government to pay its workers and in particular the security establishment, to what extent is this a threat to national peace?

TM: The continued delays and failures on salary payments by government are a serious threat to national security and, therefore, peace and stability! Failure to pay security personnel is symptomatic of State failure and for this more than any other reason, ZPT is convinced is a red flag station.

ND: There have been reports of violent clashes between political parties at rallies and the ongoing Local Government Bill public hearings, what is your view as the country slowly edges towards another election?

TM: These continued incidences of violence at gatherings must not be taken for granted. The violent DNA streak in our politics remains a serious cause for concern and one may never know which matchstick will cause an uncontrollable inferno!

ND: The country’s leadership seems to be at the forefront of anti-semantic and anti-group rhetoric what is ZPT doing to diffuse tensions?

TM: ZPT would like to call upon the youths to be weary of being used as political fodder by politicians. The days of beating and burning one another for political mileage must not be relived. No politician is worth dying for!

ND: Government is yet to establish, let alone, clearly fund the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) three years following the adoption of the new Constitution, what is your view?

TM: The NPRC debacle is a huge story on its own. That nothing much has moved in that front speaks volumes about the attitudes of those in authority concerning the commission. We at the ZPT are fully aware of the shenanigans behind frustrating the operationalisation of the commission. The blatantly ill-drafted Bill is, but just one such maneuvre. Zimbabwe has a well-oiled up violence infrastructure and the NPRC is a most needful development towards putting together a peace infrastructure for Zimbabwe.

ND: The Gukurahundi atrocities and the violence that continues to dog Zimbabwe’s key democratic process remain raw issues, do you think there is need for NPRC to open public hearings on these and other issues?

TM: It is well within the constitutional mandate of the NPRC to conduct hearings of the magnitude and scope that matches that of the NPRC. This in part informs you of its still birth.

 

- News Day
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