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Violence is a reproach to any people
22/02/2014 00:00:00
by Learnmore Zuze
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"Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit" - Mahatma Ghandi

 A WISE man once said “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics and that until we stop harming all other living beings we are still savages.” Last week saw two terrible incidents of violence making the news in Harare. One involved the deputy treasurer-general of the MDC-T, Elton Mangoma, and the less publicized incident involving a police officer who was severely assaulted by a group of about seven soldiers in a dispute over a kombi crew arrest.

At times it is inevitable to launch into politics especially when politics propagates a culture that threatens the freedoms of people by setting precedents that may endure well into the future to the detriment of a nation. I also realize the risk of being painted with a political brush in dwelling on such a political matter. Nevertheless, I have realized in my journey as a writer that if one were to try to listen, much less to answer all the criticisms leveled against them they may as well be writing nothing else but response articles. The greatest duty of a writer is to the truth and not to anything else. Personally, I have never subscribed to the school of thought of what is popular. In fact, what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.

Zimbabweans have consistently shown that they are a people with a strong sense of what is right as opposed to what is wrong. An example is the stink which was raised by the recent exposure of unconscionable salaries which were being pocketed by parastatal executives. Zimbabweans, so it seems, yearn for accountable and responsible leaders. Zimbabweans, it is apparent, desire a well-run economy where no one exploits the other. Zimbabweans, it is clear, long for a society where they are not afraid to state what they believe in.

However, the recent developments within the MDC-T particularly the violence that rocked Harvest House last week is cause for concern for most Zimbabweans who continue to push for good governance and real democracy. The assault on Mangoma by his own party members is a dent on the integrity of any party which claims association with democracy. It is equally astounding to see the continued back-lashes against Mangoma on social media and different platforms long after the attack of last week. Only a handful of people can pick everything wrong with the precedent set by MDC-T youths last Saturday.


The Mangoma assault casts a gigantic dark shadow on the integrity, democracy and supposed values of a democratic party.  The MDC-T, as a political party which seeks to bring about democracy and good governance, might not be doing much to inspire confidence by resorting to violence to settle differences. Many conspiracy theories exist and whether Mangoma is right or wrong now stands dwarfed by the commotion seen at Harvest House last Saturday. Others argued that Mangoma failed to respect the protocols of his party and that dangling money for Tsvangirai to go was something of an insult. However, I believe that Zimbabweans (political and apolitical) ought to see the wrongfulness of the use of violence at a glance.

The picture of a hapless Mangoma in a shredded shirt and scenes of marauding youths cordoning Harvest House entrance hardly inspired confidence for a people who purport to uphold democracy. There is very little doubt that Tsvangirai, for the foreseeable future, is likely to remain the face of his party. His popularity is clear for all to see despite his modest educational background and personal shortcomings. I believe that the point of Tsvangirai’s popularity could still have been driven home without a finger being laid on Mangoma. It is an acknowledgement of the strength of someone’s argument when an opponent abandons the discussion to attack them.  Crushing dissent is certainly not the exemplary thing to do for a supposed democracy. What confidence should the citizenry have that an MDC-T government will not use the same machinery confronted with a striking people?

Tsvangirai, I hope, does not take the behavior of these youths as a show of his popularity but, instead, should instigate real action against perpetrators of violence whatever their station. Violence should not be condoned. “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs12: 34). The behavior of MDC-T youths is no different from the behavior of homing pigeons; they always come home to roost. Violence might sound well being perpetrated on Mangoma but the very same way that Mangoma was dealt with may well befall anyone within the MDC-T party because this is a set precedent.

History drips with examples of overzealous people who created monsters out of leaders by intoxicating them with power. No man is good enough to be trusted with absolute power. Power will intoxicate the best minds as wine the wisest heads. It is a call I make to all Zimbabweans across the political divide that differences ought to be resolved amicably at such times when we differ in opinion. Differences in opinion will always exist but violence is definitely not the way to go. Violence begets violence. The rowdy behavior by the youths often begets a leader who is unaccountable and ‘untouchable’.

This behavior is also a replica of what we continue to witness in religious circles today where followers are ever ready to insult and assault anyone who dares differ with the ‘anointed’ leaders. This behavior is certainly not to be tolerated in a country like Zimbabwe where we all profess our love for democracy. Indeed these youths risk creating a fierce leader who, drunk with power, might one day turn the heat against a whole nation. It is only righteousness and peace which exalts a nation but violence indeed is a disgrace to a people.

Learnmore Zuze is a published author and theological researcher. He can be reached at lastawa77@gmail.com

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