Political violence is a serious problem in itself, but at the same time it is also a symptom of a deeper problem, resulting from the nature and history of Zimbabwe’s political power struggle.
Today NCA’s Chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku and International Coordinator, Munjodzi Mutandiri spoke at a seminar at Centre for African Studies in Copenhagen. First Madhuku took the audience back to the liberation war, where today’s leaders of Zimbabwe were groomed. At independence in 1980, many of the political leaders came straight from the battlefield.
As new generations have grown up and started to claim their space in the political arena, the ageing leaders from the liberation struggle have continuously, loudly and violently claimed that their authority cannot be challenged, because they won Zimbabwe’s freedom 31 years ago.
Alternative voices gained weight as Zimbabweans came together in the 1990s and started pushing for a new agenda for a people oriented and participatory democracy, where power should be won in free and fair elections. But as Madhuku put it:
They believe the legitimacy comes from the bullets and not from the ballots. They won black majority rule. Now we must fight to win the respect for the electoral vote
The struggle in the past decade has been a competition between ideologies, where the ideology of violence is challenged by an ideology of democracy where power should not be won in a battle but given by the people in regular elections.
Political violence has become an integral part of this battle when the political elite use the military, police and militant militia to beat people into compliance with their political agenda.
The machine of violence has not been dismantled since 2008. It has been oiled and can be reactivated anytime. There is a need for communities to unite and say no to the violence, Mutandiri said at the seminar.
While many would like to believe that the Government of National Unity has bridged the gap between the political parties, a compromise between the ideological differences cannot be reached.