Zimbabwe: 'Peace Rallies Lack Political Will'

ANALYSTS say the proposed holding of joint peace rallies by the three main political parties in the country will not curb rampant political violence in the country because of the selective application of the law by the police and lack of political will.

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) last week renewed calls for the political parties to hold joint rallies in the wake of the recent disturbances in Mudzi where an MDC-T activist was killed during violent clashes with Zanu PF supporters.

Jomic said political leaders must back their calls for an end to political violence with concrete action and immediately hold joint rallies to help end clashes between their supporters across the country.

Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have in the past called for an end to political violence but are yet to hold joint rallies promised by their parties as part of efforts to calm divisions.

But analysts said no amount of joint rallies would eradicate the culture of impunity as long as known perpetrators of violence, among them Chipangano members, are left roaming the streets. Chipangano is a Mbare-based shadowy group which is accused of committing acts of violence against Zanu PF opponents, but the former ruling party has of late denied links to the outfit.

Political analyst and social rights activist, Hopewell Gumbo said Zanu PF hardliners were not prepared to lose their hold over power, hence they could not restrain their supporters.

"The MDC is serious about addressing the violence because it knows well how a peaceful environment will deliver change of regime while Zanu PF holds violence as the tool for remaining in power," Gumbo said.

"There are a lot of genuine Zanu PF people who would want to go for joint rallies as a step towards repentance and accepting reality but the hardliners see such rallies as a suicide rope and unfortunately these are more than the born again."

Bulawayo spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Edwin Ndlovu, said although the idea of joint rallies was noble, political parties were not sincere as they "preach peace during the day but eat and sleep violence."

Jomic member and deputy spokesperson of the MDC-T, Tabitha Khumalo said the GPA principals must "walk the talk" to help end political violence. "It's now a trend that whenever the word election is mentioned, violence erupts. Elections do not mean war. It is about campaigning and selling your party's ideology and there is no reason to fight," she said.

"Principals might denounce violence at public gatherings but remember people are in all parts of the country and the exercise will be fruitful if they visit all the 10 provinces."

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not be reached for comment, but last week, the party's women league boss, Oppah Muchinguri also condemned violence and supported the idea of holding joint peace campaigns.

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