By Sij Ncube
HARARE, NOVEMBER 11, 2015 – POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED violence is again rearing its ugly head as the country’s two protagonists Zanu PF and the main opposition MDC tussle for the minds and souls of long suffering citizens, in what critics view as a harbinger of worse things to come ahead of the crunch 2018 polls.
The media has for the past three weeks been awash with reports of running battles between supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s party and those of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
On Wednesday an independent daily paper carried on its front page pictures of injured MDC T supporters that were allegedly beaten up by Mugabe’s supporter after they were intercepted after attending a court hearing of their colleagues at Mbare Magistrates court. The MDC T supporters that had been arraigned before the courts were allegedly victims of a terror campaign by Zanu PF supporters at the weekend in Harare South.
But the violence, analysts point out, has not only been confirmed in the capital but has manifested itself in most of the Mashonaland provinces with MDCT supporters claiming being victims.
MDC T spokesperson Obert Gutu, however attributes the latest spat of violent incidents to what he says is the party’s resurgence as is proven by the huge attendances at the rallies that were recently addressed by Tsvangirai in Mashonaland West province; a perceived Zanu PF stronghold.
“We have also been holding regular rallies in Harare province and these have also been very well – attended. All this has unsettled the Zanu PF regime and the ruling party is now feeling very insecure,” said Gutu.
“You will also note that the deep -rooted factional fights within Zanu PF have caused a lot of political instability within the ruling elite and as such, the securocracy has seen it fit to intervene and disrupt the political activities of the MDC; because they know that we are the largest and most popular opposition party.
“The strategy now is to drive out the MDC from all perceived Zanu PF strongholds by the use of violence and brute force. This is a harbinger of worse things to come as we move towards the watershed 2018 elections,” he said.
Gutu predicts the country is going to witness a serious deterioration of the security situation, claiming the securocrats have now literally taken things into their own hands.
“Zanu PF as a political party is hardly functional because of unprecedented factional divisions. The securocrats are now running the show. They are in de facto control of all instruments of State power.”
But Zanu PF denies it is behind the violence, claiming it is a peaceful organisation, something critics find very hard to believe, pointing out that Zanu PF prides itself as a party with a president “with degrees in violence and a party which spills blood.”
Vivid Gwede, a Harare-based political analyst, says the present violence shows that the political players in Zimbabwe have not reformed and as usual can employ violence if they choose.
“Naturally one expects that as the political friction heats up towards 2018 there will be easier resort to violence. It is also surprising, but reveals a systematic way the violence happens that only opposition supporters seem to be arrested in these skirmishes,” said Gwede.
He charged that security sector reform would be a key deterrent to political violence. “Once the security institutions act impartially the cost of violence is felt and deters all practices.”
Popular political blogger and analyst, Takura Zhangazha says violence is sadly part of the political campaign fabric of a majority of Zimbabwe’s political parties.
“This is largely because party supporters are rarely engaged by their leaders on issues of value and principle in between elections. Nor are they engaged on issues to do with peaceful protests or mobilisation strategies. Hence violence never goes away as an undemocratic political strategy,” he said.
In the meantime opposition supporters nurse their injuries in the forlorn hope their Zanu PF assailants would one day be brought to book