When then President Robert Mugabe — who had boasted of leading a party with “degrees in violence” was ousted, there was hope that Zimbabwe would begin to see elections devoid of violence.
Violence within the ruling Zanu PF and against any opposing voices had become a culture in Zimbabwe’s body politic. It now seems, the cancer of violence has also affected the opposition parties in particular the main MDC-T putting democratic principles at the back.
While all stakeholders in the forthcoming elections — including the dominant parties Zanu PF and the MDC-T — have been preaching the gospel of peace ahead of the elections, the situation is completely different on the ground.
The developments within the parties whose primary elections have been marred with disputes and violence showing that we may have been too hopeful, as this could be a pointer to the nature of our national elections.
We believe that the violence witnessed in the parties’ internal polls amid allegations of massive rigging and attempts by top officials to impose their preferred candidates in certain constituencies does not augur well for the future of our politics and can only leave one with the refrain the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Indeed, Zimbabwe could be still a long way from holding free, fair and credible elections, where violence is an anathema during polls.
It is likely going to take many more years to build a strong culture of peace, and this places a demand on every Zimbabwean to make a personal commitment to exercising and promoting peace in every way possible.
It is quite unfortunate that violence was witnessed in several places, such as Budiriro, Glen View North, Glen View South, Zengeza, Kambuzuma and Gokwe Central where MDC-T candidates clashed over the selection criteria. We sincerely hope that this is not a microcosm of the forthcoming elections.
On the other hand, violence skirmishes were also witnessed in the 14 constituencies where Zanu PF was holding its primary election re-runs.
If Zimbabwe is indeed open for business, then we have to prove that by handling our politics in a civilised and mature way that will court international respect.
In fact, politicians should not mistake politics for a profession, but should know when to handover the baton to the next person.