As echoes for peace grow, a test of nation’s soul

There is clearly a reason why everyone is calling for Zimbabwe to preserve peace in the midst of the conflict of disputed elections.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres as well as a number of heads of State and observer missions that watched elections in Zimbabwe say that peace should prevail.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the latest to call for peace and avoid violence at all costs.

But, why is everyone concerned?

First of all, Zimbabwe suffers from endemic violence and the political space has been dominated by violence that can be traced to the establishment of the State in both pre-historic and modern times.

Election periods from 1980 – when Zimbabwe gained Independence from Britain, which Independence came at a price of war and bloodshed – have not been peaceful always.

There has been continuous bloodletting with gory spectacles of compatriots beating each other and killing each other to satisfy debased political desires.

In the ritual of elections, blood has been spilled as if to satiate the thirst of of an ungodly spirit.

We don’t have to be superstitious, though.

The reality is that violence is a result of poor choices by political protagonists who choose and use violence over persuasion and compromise.

Violence is driven by intolerance and the use of brawn over brain, at whatever level.

Now, with a history of violent elections in Zimbabwe everyone was anxious that the just-ended elections would follow the pattern.

It didn’t, exactly, with just one death of a Harare man a few says before the election.

Politicians, particularly President Mnangagwa has issued spirited calls to avoid the violence route not just for the sake of preserving lives, but also because of the bad publicity that violence has levied and attracted on our processes.

Thankfully, the election was not blood-splattered this time around – or at least so far.

Following the rejection of the outcome of the election by the opposition, the nation is tense and there is a huge possibility of violence orchestrated by, or provoked by certain quarters of the opposition and perhaps external parties to foment a crisis.

Suddenly, we are seeing some characters such as Promise Mkwananzi, who were responsible for political violence a few years ago, being resurrected and elevated in opposition ranks.

It must be said without fear or favour that this does raise a lot of stink as opposition is apparently erecting structures of violence.

Up to this point, there had been a lot of temperance; especially so, too, with the suppression of fake news and disinformation and partisan publication of election results to mislead the public.

However, now we are seeing social media being fed with incendiary rhetoric and indications of planning for violence.
It is a dangerous situation.

We know that it will only take a spark to bring the whole thing down: lives will be lost and a lot of factors will push conflict deeper and darker and bloodier. It is a route in that we all don’t want.

Various stakeholders of goodwill such as President Ramaphosa are thus worried, naturally.

It is disheartening that some Zimbabwaans do not see the grave danger and would want to push the limits just for political power and perhaps money and notoriety that comes with driving conflict.

Is it worth it? No!

Should Zimbabwe go through such an episode? No!

Stakeholders must continue to uphold peace in Zimbabwe, and various players should not use violence or threats of violence for personal and political gain.


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