By Chido Chikuni
Economic development is a process in which a nation is improving its economic, political and social sectors for the well-being of its people whilst peace can be defined as freedom from any form of disturbance. Hence, peace is synonymous with development.
Zimbabweans have always been a peace loving people and there is need to cherish this quality as it is hard to come by once it’s gone as witnessed in some parts of Africa.
Africa is a vastly varied continent. African countries have different histories and geographical settings, different stages of economic development, different sets of public policies and different patterns of internal and international interactions.
Thus, in recent years, Africa witnessed a number of these violent intra-state conflicts which have resulted in the diversion of a significant portion of resources including official development assistance and moving away from development to emergency which has remained a major impediment to development. Countries such as Nigeria, Sudan and Libya, among others have been involved in serious conflicts revolving around issues of politics, economy, religion and social disputes which led to the killing of thousands of people.
Since he assumed office in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has always been preaching the gospel of peace. Because of his appetite for a peaceful nation, the 39th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) nominated President Mnangagwa as the incoming SADC Chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
The forthcoming 39th SADC meeting which will be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this August will witness President Mnangagwa assuming the Chairmanship of the Troika.
It is however, disconcerting that, whilst President Mnangagwa is pushing hard to maintain peace in the country, some political parties are also busy trying to disturb it. It’s a shame that the planned MDC-A demonstration scheduled for 16 August 2019, will likely coincide with the 39th SADC summit. The MDC-A is trying to create an impression that there is no peace in Zimbabwe. Their agenda is meant to tarnish the image and reputation of Zimbabwe for their own selfish ends.
Section 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution prescribes that every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights should not impinge on other people’s rights as well. The MDC should know that no right is absolute.
The attempt to paint Zimbabwe as a nation at odds by the opposition MDC-A, would certainly resolve nothing but chase away investors making the economic situation dire. MDC has always been bent on spoiling the broth and they know that the continued acts of violence will dampen President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement and engagement efforts with the international world. Potential investors who had been warming up to President Mnangagwa’s ‘Zimbabwe is open for business” strategy would be driven away thereby depriving the country of the much needed foreign currency.
In that regard, the efforts to rebuild and develop Zimbabwe’s economy will all be thrown to the dogs. Conflicts and disputes are a major hindrance to development in most developing countries. For Zimbabwe to regain its economic status there is need for all political party leaders, the Church, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to fully participate and where applicable proffer solutions that makes Zimbabwe a great nation.
In its endeavour to maintain peace and national security in the country, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) will this year commemorate the ZDF Day under the theme, “Guaranteeing Peace and Security for National Development”. The ZDF theme resonates well with President Mnangagwa’s call for peace, unity and national development.
In Malawi where there are disputes over election results, the Malawi Defence Force soldiers were deployed to strategic places so as to try and bring peace in that country. Reports have it that shops were closed and only a few people in the city were noticed. In Blantyre, the protests are said to be led by ex-Vice President Saulos Chilima who came third in the contested elections. It was also reported that a police officer’s house was torched by demonstrators in Lilongwe.
Honestly, such acts of violence by rioters can be a major barrier to development. It must be known that political and economic differences are not solved in the streets, but through dialogue. The violent incidents of August 2018 and January 2019 that emanated from an unlawful election result announcement by MDC-A Co-Vice President, Tendai Biti and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) ‘national shutdown’, respectively, should not be repeated again as most lives were lost during such protests.
Zimbabwe needs peace to foster development.