By Leonard Koni.

Harare, Zimbabwe. (News of The South) –
Zimbabwe draws and gears for the 2018 harmonised elections some political parties have rolled out campaigning plans and strategies with posters of different aspiring leaders likely to be all over the country.

However political violence has been the most thorny and disturbing issue whenever we are into this election mode.

Political violence is a broad term used to describe violence perpetrated by either persons or governments to achieve political goals. Many groups and individuals believe that their political systems will never respond to their demands. As a result, they believe that violence is not only justified but also necessary in order to achieve their political objectives. Similarly, many governments around the world believe they need to use violence in order to intimidate their populace into acquiescence. At other times, governments use force in order to defend their country.

Political violence starts in the electoral process where people elect the preferred leader of their choice. It has been extensively used by political hoodlums to score cheap political goals. The young people have on several times been manipulated by these politicians who buy them beer and are given some few dollars to unleash violence in order to silence their critics.

Political violence is a threat to building a very strong visible democratically elected government.

Political violence can be seen manifested in various forms as physical assaults, arson (the illegal use of fire to destroy a house, building or
property) and murder.The political violence in Zimbabwe has caused deaths of many people both from the ruling and opposition political parties. People are threatened every time we hold elections and are left traumatised in their lives because of incessant political violence perpetrated on them. The police could not effectively detect the crime as it is sometimes biased towards the ruling party.

Business can come to a standstill and can close. It affects the entire economic sector even potential investors are turned off by any kind of political instability of a country. It is argued that election frauds and rigging have instigated all these political violence.

A good example is when the country went for an election on 29 March 2008 to
elect the President. The election was marrred with political violence when ZEC delayed to announce the election results.The election body took four weeks to announce who the winner was between the incumbent President Robert Mugabe and opposition Dr Morgan Tsvangirayi. ZEC was faced with one of it’s toughest electoral challenge and was blamed for Its failure in handling of the electoral process and the government was later accused of
planning to rig the election.

Human Rights Watch pointed out that the election was likely to be “deeply flawed”.

The failure to release results within a stipulated time frame was strongly criticised by the regional and international community.

MDC declared that Tsvangirai won a narrow majority in the first round and initially refused to participate in any second round.(ZEC) announced on 2 May that Tsvangirai won 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe 43.2%, necessitating a run-off , which was to be held on 27 June 2008.

Despite Tsvangirai’s continuing claims to have won a first round majority, he decided to participate in the second round. The period following the first round was marked by political violence. ZANU-PF and the MDC each blamed the other’s supporters for
perpetrating the violence.

On 22 June 2008, Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from the run-off,describing it as a “violent sham”
and saying that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. The second round of elections went ahead with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
as the only actively participating candidate, and on a one man race.

Now that we are just left with some few months before President Mugabe announces the election date, the unemployed youths who are living in abject poverty are the main targets as canon fodders of political violence. We are going to witness skirmishes of violence as political parties try to outplay each other and flex their muscles. Last month October there are some cases reported of political motivated violence in Chitungwiza. Signs and symptoms of political violence are now starting to find a breeding ground and negatively showing their ugly faces.

It is now the duty of police officers to keep an eye and monitor the trend of political motivated violence throughout the country and weed out every suspect as we go to the polls. The 2008 election experience must be quickly forgotten and must not be repeated. We have learnt from our mistakes and we need to rectify the problem.

We all have a duty to play to combat political motivated violence and be tolerate of divergent views. Our leaders must start preaching peace and love.

Despite our political affiliations and backgrounds we all belong to one country called Zimbabwe and we should respect each other and desist from fanning violence and calling each other names. It’s about time we turn our swords, knobkerries , sjambok into ploughs and skills to develop this beautiful nation. Zimbabwe needs to build strong institutions so that we can build a strong nation with a strong economic stability.

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