EDITORIAL COMMENT: MDC-T must rid itself of violent elements

MDC-T pro-Khupe supporters retaliate to anti-Khupe supporters at their offices in Bulawayo on Sunday afternoon

MDC-T pro-Khupe supporters retaliate to anti-Khupe supporters at their offices in Bulawayo on Sunday afternoon

Police have arrested 12 people in connection with the Sunday MDC-T violence which resulted in a number of party supporters being injured and property being destroyed in Bulawayo.

The fight was between members of a faction led by MDC-T vice president Dr Thokozani Khuphe and those that support MDC-T leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa. Dr Khupe, national organising secretary Mr Abednego Bhebhe and national party spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu were meeting the Bulawayo province party structures at the party offices in the Central Business District when violence broke out.

The faction led by Adv Chamisa is said to have been riled by Dr Khupe and her colleagues’ decision to boycott adv Chamisa’s MDC Alliance rally in Chinhoyi in order to hold their own meeting in Bulawayo. A number of people were injured including innocent passersby as the area along Fort Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue where MDC-T provincial offices are, was literally turned into a war zone.

We want to commend the police for moving in swiftly to arrest suspects and it is our fervent hope that more will be arrested as investigations continue. The police should send a very clear message that violence is not tolerated — be it intra-party or inter-party.

The President, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, has repeatedly warned Zimbabweans against engaging in violence but it seems this is falling on deaf ears.

Commenting on Sunday’s violence, Dr Khupe said she has never witnessed such kind of violence involving party supporters before.

It is clear that the Chamisa-led faction members who were against the Sunday meeting came prepared for war hence they were armed with all sorts of weapons to attack their rivals.

Mr Gutu said the group was armed with stones, knives, sticks and iron bars and just started attacking people at the meeting without any provocation.

This behaviour is unacceptable as it puts other people’s lives at risk and should therefore be stopped. The perpetrators of violence have no place under the new political dispensation. These undesirable elements should be put where they belong, which is jail.

Zimbabwe is heading for general elections and Cde Mnangagwa has said the elections should be violence-free. It is therefore the responsibility of different political parties to ensure that their members refrain from violent conduct. MDC-T has already demonstrated that it is a violent party and the challenge to its leadership is to urgently address this culture of violence.

What is embarrassing is that the MDC-T supporters in Bulawayo decided to engage in violence at a time when the city and Harare are playing host to the 2018 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. What image are we portraying as a nation when we fight in front of guests?

We have every reason to conclude that among the individuals that incited MDC-T supporters to engage in violence are Zimbabwe’s enemies who are after tarnishing the country’s image. Many of these cricket tourists who are supposed to be our tourism ambassadors when they return to their countries now have a distorted view of the situation in the country. The leadership of the MDC-T should therefore be held accountable for their supporters’ actions meant to sabotage efforts to rebrand Zimbabwe as a tourist destination of choice.

What is encouraging is that the judiciary on its part has already warned politicians and aspiring candidates in the upcoming elections to desist from fuelling violence. Officially opening the 2018 Hwange High Court Circuit, Justice Martin Makonese said the courts will not hesitate to deal with those that engage in violence.

He said political parties should heed Cde Mnangagwa’s call for Zimbabweans to shun violence before, during and after the harmonised elections.

We want at this juncture to call upon the MDC-T to go beyond just condemning violence but getting rid of violent elements within its midst as police do their part to rid the entire Zimbabwean society of these undesirable elements.

Violence, it must be appreciated, does not only result in loss of human lives and destruction of property but also scares away investors and tourists. Those that have the propensity to engage in violence should be fished out from our midst and sent to jail.