Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
THE United States has been urged to deal with the log in its eye before looking at the twig in Zimbabwe in the wake of the violence that broke out in Chicago last Friday during a campaign rally by Republican front-runner Mr Donald Trump, and the wanton shooting down of black people by white policemen. The US has not only issued infantile travel warnings on Zimbabwe but has also sought to discredit Zimbabwe’s electoral process despite Sadc, African Union, Comesa, African Caribbean and Pacific countries among other groupings giving Harare’s electoral process a clean bill of health where Zanu-PF leader President Mugabe has successively thumped MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in the last three presidential elections.
According to statistics, US police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015 alone, almost two people each week. Mr Trump is under fire from rivals who blamed his incendiary rhetoric for a violent outbreak between protesters and his supporters in Chicago.
Mr Trump cancelled the event after demonstrators scuffled with his supporters and police struggled to maintain order, with hundreds of protesters showing up amid reports that police had to fire pepper spray to contain unruly elements during the politically motivated violence.
“When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discord,” Mr Trump’s main rival for the Republican nomination, Mr Ted Cruz, told reporters.
Throngs of protesters, most of them blacks and Latinos angered by Mr Trump’s incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric, had massed outside and inside the venue in Chicago, mingling with the candidate’s supporters.
A Trump rally scheduled for yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio, was also cancelled, with the local spokesman for the campaign telling US media that the Secret Service supporting the campaign could not complete preparation work in time. Zanu-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo accused the US of being hypocrical.
“They claim to be the best in the world in terms of democracy. If what happened in Chicago is the best, then God forbid. “They should stop pretending to be the champions of democracy but of violence. Look at all trouble spots in the world, they are there,” said Cde Khaya Moyo, who is also Minister of Policy Co-ordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office.
“They should first clean their own house before claiming to be champions of democracy. They should remove the log in their eyes first.” Mr Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the Tendai Biti-led political outfit, People Democratic Party, condemned Mr Trump’s campaign trail saying it constituted hate speech.
“We have been vocal against Donald Trump. His campaign has been characterised by strong language bordering on hate speech against Mexicans and poor people, among others. His message is out of sync with modern democratic leadership. The language sounds like some of our ruling party leaders in Africa,” said Mr Mafume.
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe director Mr Philip Pasirayi said as civic society they used the same democratic standards to measure political developments globally.
“What happened in the US shows that democracy is under threat even in its turf, in the West. This is the reason why civil society should be more vocal in demanding democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” said Mr Pasirayi.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu claimed that the violence in the US was insignificant compared to that which obtains in Zimbabwe. “It is laughable to try to compare political violence in the USA and in Zimbabwe. Political violence in Zimbabwe is mostly State-sponsored and also orchestrated by thugs from the ruling Zanu-PF regime.
“The mere fact that there has been some isolated incidents of politically motivated violence in Chicago, USA, doesn’t mean that Zimbabwe and the US now rank pari passu in matters that pertain to political violence,” said Mr Gutu.
Media reports say there were between 8 500 to 10 000 people in the arena in Chicago when tensions erupted into chaos. Mr Trump said he decided to call off the gathering after consulting with police in the city, where tensions had been rising for hours in the build-up to the event at a sporting arena at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“I don’t want to see anybody hurt,” Trump told CNN afterwards. US media reports say the chaos ended several hours later, but not before members of the crowd threw bottles and other objects at officers, and several tried to take the stage and speak at the podium.
One poster held by a protester inside the arena read, “We are not rapists”, referring to Mr Trump’s characterisation last year of Mexicans as rapists. Police made a total of five arrests and two officers were taken to area hospitals after sustaining minor injuries, the Chicago Police Department confirmed to AFP. – Additional reporting by AFP.