HARARE – Warnings about the damaging nature of violence during campaigning for the forthcoming election have become topical ahead of the watershed polls to determine popular appeal among parties that promise a decent future for the electorate.
The modicum of economic stability that the country has witnessed since the birth of the coalition government could come unhinged through unhelpful actions from people intolerant of opposing views, if care is not taken.
And the consequences are most likely to cause nightmares for even those that instigate violence as a means to gain power. Undoubtedly, it will be a pyrrhic victory for those that initiate, provoke and fuel electoral violence.
Finance minister, Tendai Biti, has added his voice to growing uneasiness about the irreparable damage elections marred by violence pose to the economy, while a number of entrepreneurs and business organisations have expressed deep-seated apprehension about the timing of the polls.
There have been fears expressed by agriculturalists that the plebiscite might disrupt the farming season given that the polls are scheduled for March when farming activities are at their peak.
These fears stem from the fact that our agro-based economy might suffer.
Industries might be choked for lack of raw material, leading to a relapse in industrial growth and consequent retrenchments on a wider scale.
This is not just idle talk but explicit concerns about the welfare of our country and its people.
No true and patriotic Zimbabwean would want to look back and regret that after moments of electoral madness when all exploits in violence have ended, the country chalks up staggering losses in both agriculture and business.
The warning that the economy could contract by eight percent per annum for the next five years if the country proceeds with a violent election next year is dire.
Recovery from such shrinkage would be an uphill task for a nation struggling to overcome a self-inflicted economic meltdown. The legendary Pyrrhus of Greece is famed for his exploits, especially his sustaining staggering losses in order to defeat the Romans.
No one should desire to subject Zimbabwe to such calamitous conditions that shrivel up the little economic progress made so far.
It is not worth the risk. It is therefore incumbent upon politicians and those seeking political office to educate their supporters that victory in polls is possible to achieve without resorting to violence.
Politicians, particularly the leaders should work hard to change their supporters’ perception that every contest for political space needs not subsume blood and wailing, hate and intolerance.
Victory achieved with coercion, beatings and intimidation is dishonest.
They should also tell their supporters that love for one’s country is never demonstrated by resorting to violent confrontations with political opponents. – Staff Writer