Have you ever wondered why certain people are more inclined to be involved in political violence as opposed to others? Do these people suddenly start attacking others around elections and do they stop when elections are over? How do they get to that point and what do they do in ‘peaceful times’?
These are the questions that most of us are asking. Where do violent tendencies come from? Do these people suddenly start beating up their fellow men but are very peaceful people in their homes?
The majority of the perpetrators of political violence are the youths, unemployed youths who spend their days by the street corners trying to find something to do with their lives. The cash strapped men who have no income to do anything. The addict who will do anything for a fix and the party fanatic who will do anything for the party. I doubt someone who works a full time job or manages their business full time would get home and start bashing their neighbour after a hard days’ work. It is an unlikely characteristic.
I believe that violent people in the home turn out to be violent in the society. They are the kind of people you will find beating their wives, rebellious children and the kind that believe a fist fight will resolve their issues.
Are these violent people not the same lurking in the maize fields attacking women in the wee hours of the morning? The very same people who prey on people walking alone in the dark and rob them?
During the 2008 election period every criminal in the making and the professional criminals were given a free pass to ‘perfect their trade’ with no consequences. They raped, killed, burned and looted. However the chickens are coming home to roost as there seems to be a shift in the justice system as perpetrators of violence are being prosecuted and sentenced. For example the High Court in Harare recently ordered a man to be imprisoned until he paid a certain amount to the plaintiff who was suing three men for damages arising from torture and organised violence. The plaintiff was tortured by the three men in 2006 who accused him of supporting the opposition.
In September2011 a ZANU PF man was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping anMDCsupporter. The magistrate said he was ‘a disrespectful thug and an opportunist who took advantage of the volatile political situation to rape a vulnerable woman’. October 2011 3 ZANU PF youths were sentenced to 18 years in prison for murdering anMDCsupporter. The court stated that this sentence was a clear statement on the sanctity of life, a demonstration that the law can work. If only more of these cases were tried then maybe there would be more respect for the law.
The reality that no one wants to admit is that sanctioned criminals become a nuisance to the society as a whole because once they realise they can commit their crimes with impunity then no one will be able to control them.