Columnist/OpinionLatest

Only justice can guarantee peace!

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

It has become a common song in Zimbabwe.

We need to maintain peace, unity, and desist from any acts that may cause discord and disharmony in the country.

We have heard this call repeated by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

A day ago, the same was reiterated by Acting President Constantino Chiwenga.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or to be faulted in such a beautiful message.

Who would not want to stay in a peaceful environment – where we all live together in oneness and tranquility?

Quite honestly, why would anyone not be grateful to God that we in Zimbabwe are not going through the harrowing death and destruction we have been witnessing on utter shock unfolding in Gaza (Palestine)?

Living in peace and harmony is arguably the greatest gift with which a people can be blessed.

There is nothing more terrifying and horrifying than war and strife within a nation.

We even endured this nightmare during the 1960s and 70s, when black Zimbabweans took up arms against the racist colonial regime.

The question then becomes: Were our fathers and mothers such anarchists and malcontents who despised peace?

In fact, did some of our school textbooks during that era not describe these liberation movements as ‘trouble-causers’?

Well, I do not believe so!

As far as I am concerned, our parents were some of the most peace-loving people on this planet – who preferred nothing more than living together as one and in tranquility.

So, what possessed them into taking such a violent, destructive, and bloody path if they were so harmonious and lovers of peace?

It is quite simple, really!

For peace to prevail, there is a need for justice to exist.

The most fundamental ingredient of unity, peace, and harmony within any society is for all its people to be treated with respect, honor, and equality.

Their rights need to be valued and appreciated by all – most especially by those in offices of authority.

In the absence of these unalienable rights and freedoms, the dream and aspiration of peace can never really be attained.

If anything, any existing supposed ‘tranquility and harmony’ would be hanging by a thread with the danger of it snapping at any moment.

In other words, the peace would only be a façade and ticking time bomb ready to explode anytime.

That is why the absence of war or physical conflict does not necessarily equate to the existence of peace.

A nation can seemingly be at peace, yet its people are seething within and ready to blow up at any moment.

Maybe that explains the relentless calls by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite for citizens to remain united and peaceful.

This undeniable panic and fear within the corridors of power is derived from the knowledge that Zimbabweans are angry with their leaders.

Those in power understand that the smiles on citizens’ faces are of a people who are normally joyous – but everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Our so-called leaders are fully aware of what transpired during the colonial times.

Even then Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith was fooled – leading him to make one of the worst judgements of ordinary Zimbabweans’ mood and mindset.

He, with the utmost confidence, declared, “Our blacks are the happiest blacks in Africa.”

Boy, was he wrong!

Only a few years later, there was an armed liberation struggle raging in parts of the country.

No wonder there were those who branded the nationalists ‘trouble-causers’ since they could not fathom how these ‘happiest blacks’ had suddenly become so angry.

Surely, what was anyone to expect when the majority were racially segregated and forced onto the fringes of the social, political, and economic life of their own country?

Just how long did those in power seriously expect these blacks to remain ‘happy’?

This applies equally to today’s Zimbabwe.

We all love peace and harmony.

We are all patriotic and want our county to succeed without any impediments.

However, how long are we to keep smiling and pretending that everything is alright in Zimbabwe?

As we speak, a family of six now requires a staggering ZW$3.6 million to buy food and other basics in a month!

How many Zimbabwean earn anywhere near that figure?

Let us remember that, at the current black market rate of ZW$10,000 to US$1 (used by most retail establishments), this amounts to US$320.

Very  few people in the country earn that much – no matter how small it may appear on paper.

Here, we have 47 percent of the population classified as living in extreme poverty, whilst two-thirds of the workforce earn below the poverty datum line.

As a matter of fact, this is in itself, a form of violence against the people of this country.

In all this, the ruling clique is enjoying unparalleled opulence due to ill-gotten wealth acquired from the looting of our national resources.

Who, then, should be shocked when Zimbabweans are not happy?

When these same people decide to speak out or stand up for themselves, they are met with a savage onslaught at the hands of the regime.

In Zimbabwe, any form of peaceful demonstrations  – in spite of this being a constitutionally protected right (section 59) – is virtually barred.

This could have been a peaceful way of letting off steam and venting their frustrations.

Yet, that avenue is effectively closed.

Any who dare are immediately threatened with arrest and a brutal crackdown as if exercising one’s constitutional right had become a crime in Zimbabwe.

When we try the election option, these are rigged left, right, and center – something even recorded by various observer missions in the country.

Who can forget the scathing election reports by SADC, AU, COMESA, Commonwealth, and EU – after the shambolic sham of elections held on 23rd August 2023?

Nearly everything that renders an election a big fraud was witnessed during this period – giving Mnangagwa and his ZANU PF a controversial and disputed ‘victory’.

So, if the people are not allowed to peacefully demonstrate and can not choose their own preferred leaders, what is left for them?

This is what worries me the most.

I strongly believe the Mnangagwa administration is pushing Zimbabweans over the edge.

That is a very dangerous game to play with our nation.

It is a game none of us can afford.

Every Zimbabwean loves and cherishes peace.

Nonetheless, those in power should never make the mistake of taking citizens for granted.

They need to remember that someone who has lost everything has nothing to lose.

As such, the only way of guaranteeing lasting peace and harmony in Zimbabwe is to foster justice for all.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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