Reports from Lupane yesterday said police ambushed and brutally attacked a team of MDC-T election campaigners led by the party’s vice president and former deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe.
Comment: The Standard Editor
The attack took place out in Lupane on Friday and, according to Khupe, her team was in Matabeleland North on a voter registration campaign. A few women and children had gathered at a house of a party member when police descended on them armed with teargas and the usual batons.
Unprovoked, the police attacked the women, throwing a teargas canister in Khupe’s vehicle, chasing and beating up the scared women who fled in all directions with their children.
“We were having a private meeting encouraging our supporters to go and register to vote. As women, we have a programme where we encourage all the mothers to take their children with them as they go to register to vote and it was during that meeting that police attacked us unprovoked,” Khupe said, struggling to breathe in the aftermath of the teargas attack.
Whether or not there is a law prohibiting unsanctioned private meetings of this nature (although Zanu PF holds these willy-nilly in the middle of cities, in broad daylight and under the noses of the police), there certainly are other ways that the police could have stopped the women from gatherings without resorting to this primitive heavy-handedness.
Women and children in Lupane could not have defied, let alone resisted police orders to disperse, to the extent where police had to resort to violence. Such unnecessary display of police brutality is what breeds negative perceptions of our police force and sometimes spark needless public violence and general lawlessness.
This period leading to elections is critical to the determination of our destiny and the future and prosperity of our country. We should, therefore, as a nation, work together to ensure that we bring hope and not despair; fruit and not harm; prosperity and not more poverty to our country.
This country has suffered immensely and unnecessarily in the past decade or so — because we knowingly have not done the right thing during crucial periods.
Politicians, often with the use of state machinery such as the police in Lupane, have wantonly abused people’s constitutional right to choose leaders of their choice and the country has endured the painful consequences of disputed polls.
The consequences have come in the form of violence and bloodshed; economic decay and debilitating poverty; restlessness and hatred pervading the nation.
It is no fallacy that Zimbabweans are, by nature, a peace-loving people, but this God-given attribute has in the past two decades been stolen from us by power-hungry politicians who have sacrificed the lives of millions of our people for selfish ends.
Incidents such as the disgraceful Lupane attack trigger fear and general revulsion against authorities. It reminds people of the forgettable 2008 political mayhem and breeds a feeling that the ruling party is once again out to steal the coming election through sheer brutality and electoral theft.
And true, if as a nation, we allow them to manipulate us again into giving away our rights to determine our own destiny, we will no doubt find ourselves in the same political and economic cesspit in which we have squatted for years.
We should be encouraged by the new voting system put in place by the new Constitution which provides for protection of the voter through privacy during voting. The electorate, especially our rural folk, should not be fooled by anyone that their vote can be seen by anyone else who may want to punish them later.
We should all go out to vote without fear — only favour of political leaders of our choice.
This is what Khupe and other fellow women were out to teach voters when the police were set on them. Politicians that threaten you in order to make you vote for them do not have your interests at heart and certainly do not deserve your vote. They are the authors of national misfortunes!