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What if we copy the Nkayi model to fight political violence?


THE Nkayi community is doing things differently this time around, and maybe it is time the rest of the country copies them.

In recent weeks, we have seen members of the Nkayi Community Parliament (NCP) taking their representatives in the National Assembly, Stars Mathe and Sithembiso Nyoni, to account for actions allegedly committed by members of their party in the district.

First up was Nkayi South MP, Mathe.

After the violence that broke out in Matobo and Insiza wards 4 and 2, respectively, ahead of by-elections held on October 21, 2022, the NCP members wanted the MP to pledge peace in the district.

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change supporters, including Bulawayo proportional representation MP Jasmine Toffa, was hospitalised after the attacks.

“I also write to the police asking permission to hold all my meetings. I cannot hold a meeting without clearance from the police and if they see it as not safe for me and the people, they can stop the meetings. I cannot go against the police,” Mathe said.

“So, me and my party cannot allow violent campaigns for me to be voted for in Nkayi South, come election campaign time. Even before the campaigns, I will not allow violence.”

Well and good.

Last week, it was the turn of Nkayi North legislator, Nyoni, to face the grilling, and there was no space to hide.

“We have heard rumours that you sponsor violence during election times. How would you prevent violence in Nkayi district which is aimed at propping you up?” NPC speaker, Nhlanhla Moses Ncube fired at Nyoni

“Why are you allowing your party youths to beat up people in your constituency? Are you aware that it can make you lose the forthcoming elections since the people of Nkayi hate violence? We need an explanation,” Ncube said.

Pushed into a corner, Nyoni, who is also Women’s Affairs Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister, responded: “The rumour that I sponsor violence during elections is not true. If we were not in Parliament, I would have used very harsh words. Mr Speaker Sir, this is not true. I have never, and I will never sponsor violence. If you see a person sponsoring violence, he or she is a coward and has no leadership qualities.”

The MPs may have pleaded innocence, but they have been put on notice: the community is watching their actions, and will be held to account for political violence in their constituencies.

They are also being asked to unequivocally denounce violence against the people they are supposed to represent.

What if every constituency did that, hold their MPs to account for their actions and what they say? What if the people were to hold a mirror for their MPs to see themselves as the people see them?

We could see a massive drop in political violence.

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