EDITORIAL COMMENT: Violence will never be the answer

herald-newspapersSTORIES of political violence between Zanu-PF supporters are a very worrisome development. The police were right to firmly stomp the ugly head of violence in Harare South as we reported yesterday, especially as this comes in the wake of other incidents in Masvingo and Mutare.

Our country has been battling negative international perception and the last thing we want are self-fulfilling prophecies that abet the cause of detractors.

Violence is never the answer to the problems that face society. In fact the opposite is true. But once the descent into brutality and aggression has begun, it is hard to return to amicable discussions that lead to solutions that work for everyone. Lasting conflict resolution comes through dialogue and not duress.

Various studies by institutions like the World Bank and others have established that most violence in crisis areas is not pushed by ideological pundits, but criminals hiding under a political or religious umbrella.

Meanwhile, the loss to the community in terms of human life, injuries and property is often too dear to sustain. Public infrastructure is damaged, personal property is destroyed and relationships are torn.

The end result is that everyone is a loser. Often not even the perpetrators themselves gain any meaningful aggrandisement from their actions.

Therefore everyone should be vigilant against self-appointed vigilantes who claim to be enforcing some vague political ideas. These people claim to be acting at the behest of some very prominent and important personages. Yet it is most unlikely that the people in whose names these miscreants claim to be waging their wars, would ever publicly admit to being the instigators of violence.

As a nation we should have learnt our lesson a few years back when after a period of intense political violence, the leaders in whose names heinous acts were being perpetrated came to an agreement and managed to maintain civil relations in the inclusive Government.

With that in mind, the people who are fighting their neighbours, relatives and friends should stop and ask themselves why it has suddenly become necessary to use violence to address whatever grievance they may have?

How long have they been nursing these grievances?

What forms of redress have been sought and what was the result?

Have they exhausted all other channels for getting a solution?

Are their demands justified and justifiable?

What has suddenly changed now to make it imperative that they resort to “any means possible” to deal with the problem?

We need to be tolerant as a nation. That means we should respect the right of other people to hold different views without taking it as a personal affront.

More importantly, would-be instigators and perpetrators of violence should remember that the day of reckoning always comes. We hope that the police remain resolute in their resolve to nip political violence in the bud.

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