Chido Chikuni Correspondent
Political parties across the nation should be encouraged to turn away from violence. Violence can be defined as the unlawful and unauthorised use of force to effect decisions against the will or desires of other people in a society. When talking of political violence, it refers to all collective attacks within a political community against the political regime, its actors including competing political groups as well as its policies.
It is saddening to note that two purported zanu-pf officials from Chitungwiza were recently axed to death by a colleague. Such acts of violence should not be tolerated at all as they lead to loss of human lives and destruction of assets and property. Political victims, who die during violence normally leave a number of orphans behind, who will be traumatised for the rest of their lives.
Also, such acts impact negatively on the children living in such societies as they grow up to take the same root. It is of paramount importance to note that political violence does not only affect the moral values which are noticed through death or permanent injuries, but it also hampers the social and economic development of a nation. As long as political parties continue to rely on violence to resolve conflicts, the country will enjoy neither peace nor security.
This condition hampers social activities and limits bilateral and diplomatic relationships among Zimbabweans. Also, violence in political parties impacts negatively on the image of the nation at international level. Political violence has long term effects which include disturbed relationships in the community, nation and region.
Given the effects of political violence, one can easily note that violence has many outcomes besides affecting party members involved in those political fights.
On the other hand, political violence has short term effects which include degradation of infrastructure, among others. Though the history of political violence in Zimbabwe can be traced back to the colonial period, it is of no significant value for political party members to be involved in such acts of violence.
Political violence negates existing peace, law and order in any nation. A scholar called Howell noted that political violence militates against the consolidation of democracy and social coexistence. This in turn impacts on the social and economic well-being of a nation and creates imbalances in social relations.
Political violence is an unacceptable political instrument. Honestly, it is sad to hear that people died due to political violence. In order to neutralise violence within political parties, the rule of law should be maintained in all political sectors. Everyone is equal in front of the law.
I understand that is what was decided by all political parties when they crafted the nation’s Constitution. All members of different political parties should exhibit responsible behaviour which serves peace and stability in the nation. All political parties should be deeply concerned about any form of violence which involves their members.
It would be wiser if all those responsible for such political violence were severely punished. Anyone who causes violence inside or outside a political party should be imprisoned. The culture of impunity that encourages political violence should be discouraged by careful enforcement of laws prohibiting such illegality.
Political violence and intimidation are totally unacceptable in any society. All political parties should be encouraged to respect democratic principles that contribute to a peaceful and democratic nation. Violence is counterproductive. Security forces should not allow any spectre of bloody disagreements within political circles.
Recently, 16 MDC-T supporters were arrested in Harare for causing violence in the central business district. It was reported that the opposition supporters were staging illegal demonstrations as well as blocking the smooth flow of traffic. It is essential for political party leaders to go down to the grassroots and educate political party officials and supporters about the dangers of political violence.
Dialogue is necessary in all political parties and it should be allowed to prevail over political violence. Political violence adversely affects human security and social development in the country. Therefore, political parties should avoid any form of violence for the betterment and success of our peaceful nation.
Chikuni is a Harare-based political commentator and analyst.