2018 elections: Political violence flares-up

By Wisdom Mumera

Incidents of politically-related violence appear to have flared up of late, as the country gears for the impending 2018 elections,  raising fears that there may be another bloody episode awaiting.

Zimbabwe, will for the first time hold a general election without former President Robert Mugabe who was dethroned by the military in November last year.

However, some political commentators are of the opinion that the current leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is even more heavy-handed owing to its strong military backing.

This view was buttressed recently when Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) youths demonstrated against President Mnangagwa in Bulawayo demanding that he comes clean on his role in the unfortunate Gukurahundi Massacre.

The protesting MRP youths were reportedly seriously beaten by soldiers, Zanu PF youths and the police before being detained at an army barrack.

Commenting on the incident, political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the development showed that the brutal system was still in place despite the removal of Mugabe.

“President Mnangagwa is so poorly advised.

“Arresting and beating up protesters raising pertinent issues unaddressed in decades creates heroes in the protesters and reminds all that the undemocratic, brutal system that violates human rights is still intact despite Mugabe’s ‘Asante Sana’,” he said.

Earlier this week, violence showed its ugly face again in Harare’s Central Business District as some alleged Ximex cellphone dealers reportedly clashed with MDC-T youths leading to the trashing of property at Harvest House.

MDC-T youths, however, exonerated the Ximex dealers instead accused Zanu PF youths from Budiriro and those stationed at the Zanu PF Harare Provincial offices situated along Fourth Street.

On the other hand, Zanu PF Harare Provincial Youth chairman Godwin Gomwe distanced his party from the violence and accused MDC-T instead.

As if that was not enough, vestiges of factional fighting reared back in Epworth this week again when Kudakwashe Damson, a Zanu PF member had his house petrol bombed leading to the hospitalisation of his children.

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora who earlier tweeted erroneously that Damson was an MDC-T member condemned the violence.

“I have rechecked the facts. Damson Damson is MDC-T deputy chairman for Epworth. Kudakwashe Damson is a Zanu PF official in Epworth. The house that was attacked was that of Kudakwashe Damson. I regret the error. We still condemn the violence,” he said on social media.

Human Rights Watch director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga has called for impartial institutions to monitor and curtail these cases of violence.

“In the current highly polarized environment, one of the biggest challenges Zimbabwe faces ahead of elections is to have independent, professional, and non-partisan institutions of justice.

“Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should press the government to provide justice for past abuses, end further violence, and ensure elections are credible, free, and fair,” he said.

In 2017 the country also witnessed the burning of a vehicle belonging to MDC-T and also the burning down of a bottle store owned by MDC-T vice president Elias Mudzuri’s bar.

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