HARARE – As the country plunges into an uncertain election season that could disturb peace, some of President Robert Mugabe’s supporters are still being haunted by the ghost of the 2008 bloodshed.
Mashonaland Central province, widely regarded as a Zanu PF stronghold is also famous for political violence and intimidation of Mugabe’s opponents.
Fears are high that tensions could rise as the country hurtles towards a watershed election which is likely to end the coalition government formed after the June 2008 disputed and violent presidential election runoff.
But war veterans and youth leaders, Zanu PF’s shock troopers in successive elections since 2000, say the 2008 ghost is still haunting them and they will push for a peaceful campaign this time round.
Speaking at a meeting that was organised by the Joint Monitoring and Implementing Committee (Jomic), a body that seeks to foster unity between feuding parties, Zanu PF Mashonaland Central, provincial commissar Everson Tauro, said the country will not relapse into the pre-inclusive government violent disturbances because his party has repented.
“When we vote this time we are going to vote as Zimbabweans.
“We are not going back to 2008. We were to blame in 2008 but now the good thing is that Principals are now preaching peace. Zimbabwe is an educated country and let us demonstrate that,” said Tauro, who is also a war veterans’ leader.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai, Principals in the Sadc brokered coalition government, have repeatedly called for peace.
The peace message filtering from the highest offices seems to be making its mark on people who once thrived on violence and intimidation.
Godfrey Tsenengamu, the Zanu PF provincial youth chairperson, said youths in the province are stuck with the label “militia”.
“I had a problem convincing a woman to love me because she said I was responsible for the 2008 violence.
“It is not good for people to continue labelling us. We are all to blame for the 2008 violence but don’t keep thinking that Zanu PF of 2008 is still the same Zanu PF.
“We are no longer the Saul but we are now Paul, we have reached the Damascus moment,” said Tsenengamu.
Skeptics are however, doubtful that the hiatus will last.
MDC officials who attended the meeting said that the province is presently “quiet”.
“There is still fear in the province because of what happened in 2008, but at the moment there is no political violence.
“There is need to ensure that prevailing peace is sustained,” said Godfrey Chimombe, the MDC chairperson for Mashonaland Central.
With Mugabe, seemingly sincere on maintaining peace, Tauro said party cadres will resist the temptation to return to violent ways.
“I think the prevailing peace is going to be sustained. We, war veterans, went to war and we are drilled in violence (but) we are not going back to 2008 and I foresee elections without violence,” said Tauro.
Perpetrators of the 2008 election violence have not been brought to book and victims are yet to receive compensation.