Faith based organisations best placed to act against politically motivated violence.

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By Mjamaru- Chitownews reporter.

Zimbabweans are a religious people and religion permeates through day to day life in Zimbabwe. There are three major religions in Zimbabwe- African Traditional religion (ATR), Christianity and Islam all promote the ideals of peace, love and harmony as central tenets of their teachings which adherents must embrace. These teachings have significantly contributed to the peace and harmonious living we enjoy and cherish in our communities.

On Monday, Chitownews reported on a shocking incident of sickening public violence that took place on Saturday in Unit N of Seke township in Chitungwiza. ZANU PF youths commandeered by two well-known hooligans, Peter Anusa and Lazarus Gomo descended on MDC supporters who were assembling at an MDC-T official’s house and pelted them with missiles before going around the house shattering all window panes.

Chitownews was relieved to note that in this case police impartially discharged their constitutional mandate to serve without fear or favour and seven of the perpetrators and have since appeared before a magistrate at Makoni courts who remanded them out of custody on $30 bail.

One of the victims of Saturday’s attacks, a youth activist identified as Leeroy was previously assaulted and reportedly ‘left for dead’ by the same gang of youths on 28 April 2017. Saturday’s incident comes hot on the heels of similar skirmishes here in Chitungwiza in the recent past with the Mubaiwa Hotel incident were ZANU PF youths again disrupted a public meeting organized by CHITREST being the most outstanding that comes to mind.

Media reports and hearsay indicate that the scourge of politically motivated violence is surging in Zimbabwe ahead of the highly anticipated general elections expected to be held around the middle of 2018. This trend is confirmed by hard evidence in the form of violence monitoring reports from human rights organisations such as the Zimbabwe Peace Project and Heal Zimbabwe.

The general elections in 2018 are shaping up to be keenly contested election and no doubt physical violence, intimidation, threats of violence against person or property will be options on the table for political parties as they seek to prevail in a winner takes all contest for political power.

For Chitungwiza residents, a sense of DEJA VU pervades as people notice the unmistakable similarities between the social, political and economic situation experienced in 2007 to the one we are experiencing in 2017 and are predicting that the elections in 2018 will be a violent, bloody and an unfair farce similar to the 27 June 2008 debacle.

The parallels between 2007/2017 and 2008/2018 extend beyond the numerical as economic hardships deepen while the spectre of a bloody election run up loom even larger. The two factors previous combined to make the June 27 2008 Presidential elections the worst in living memory for most Zimbabweans as hundreds of homes were burned down, families displaced and lives were lost.

As law abiding and peace-loving citizens of Zimbabweans it will be foolhardy to ignore these warning signs and the earlier we act the better. Italian renaissance political writer- Niccolo Machiavelli in his seminal masterpiece, The Prince, observed a general rule of life when he averred that; “It is difficult to diagnose a disease in its early stages when it is easier to cure it. In its latter stages the symptoms are unmistakable making diagnosis easy but it will be difficult to cure it.

Communities in Chitungwiza should heed this sage advice by engaging each other in discussions that will come up with initiatives to forestall political violence and ensure that peace reigns in 2018 and beyond.

It is our humble opinion as Chitownews that Church and other religious leaders are best placed to facilitate these community dialogues. We call upon all men of God from different religions, churches, denominations and faiths to accept this challenge and dare to make a difference. The ball is in their court and it’s their turn to play ball.

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