The Bible exhorts us on numerous occasions to “seek peace and pursue it”. This must be the basis of all our relationships, between man and God and between ourselves and our fellow citizens.
This must be the foundational pillar of our New Zimbabwe. In November, we all came together, motivated by a dream, a free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. A peaceful Zimbabwe.
Though it has not been easy, over the past seven months, we have marched together, step by step, towards this dream. While the majority of the nation is united behind this dream, there are those who feel threatened by the steps we are taking. They do not want the open and progressive Zimbabwe we are striving for.
Last week, some people tried to kill our dream and ended up claiming the lives of two innocent people, while injuring scores of others.
While we have chosen the path of peace, others unfortunately still cling to the tools of violence.
Nevertheless, over the last week, I have been proud of the resolve that the people of Zimbabwe have shown in the face of this outrageous and cowardly attack.
The majority of our people have shown that their will for a brighter, peaceful and more prosperous future cannot and will not be broken. We will not allow the use of violence to mould our thoughts, ideology or politics. The only instrument for change will be through the ballot box, and not the gun, the explosives or other tools of violence and bloodshed.
Those who tried to hurt me are not my enemies, they are the enemies of our New Zimbabwe which we are striving together to reach. The forces of peace, progress and democracy cannot be stopped.
Our New Zimbabwe encourages robust debate, strong opinions and passionate ideology. We must embrace this. I was gratified to see recent strong robust opposition rallies in the heart of our capital city and instructed our police to ensure that they be allowed to demonstrate freely and peacefully.
I was equally delighted to see youth from the major political parties joining together to show a united front for peace and against violence. This is the Zimbabwe I believe in, and this is the New Zimbabwe we are building together, free of the violent shackles of the past.
My faith mandates that I not be motivated by hate and revenge, but by a desire to work even harder to ensure that our message of peace, unity and progress is absorbed by all as we move forward as a nation together. After last week’s events, we have to recompose and recommit ourselves to be united and address our differences peacefully, regardless of ideology or political affiliation.
Elections are certainly a time for passionate debate, but our differences must remain peacefully enunciated and our arguments civil. I call on every citizen that has a political dispute with a fellow Zimbabwean to end the debate with a hug or a handshake. While we may have different views, we all want the same thing — a better country and a brighter future. This will demonstrate that what unites us is far greater than that which divides us. The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love.
We are one people, with one destiny, and one dream. The New Zimbabwe will be built by those who seek peace and pursue it.
Together, our path will prevail.
Emmerson Mnangagwa is the President of Zimbabwe