Political leaders must shun hate speech, inflammatory language

Tendai Biti and a Zanu PF supporter

AS the clock ticks towards the August 23 harmonised elections and the political temperatures keep rising, we have noted a worrisome trend where leaders from across the political divide seem to compete in spewing hate speech and inflammatory language during campaign rallies.

We believe this is uncalled for as it will not only further divide and polarise the population, but has the potential to cause civil unrest.

We, therefore, beseech Zimbabwean politicians to, for once, preach peace and love — and help unite the nation which has suffered so many years of politically-led polarisation and economic stagnation.

Elections come and go, and it’s no use leaving our country bleeding and heavily divided. Leaders should foster a spirit of unity and shun divisive narratives in their campaigns to allow the citizenry to easily find and embrace each other after the election season.

Politicians should invest in public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the dangers of hate speech and its impact on society.

This can include workshops, seminars and media campaigns that promote tolerance, understanding and respect for diversity.

Dialogue is very important and leaders can facilitate discussions among different religious and ethnic communities to promote understanding and respect. This can help bridge divides and create a more inclusive political environment.

Leaders should engage civil society organisations, community leaders and religious institutions to create partnerships aimed at nurturing tolerance.

These groups can play a significant role in raising awareness, promoting tolerance and acting as watchdogs against hate speech.

Citizens should be provided with platforms to report instances of hate speech, and those responsible for peacekeeping must ensure appropriate action is taken swiftly against hate speech mongers.

By adopting these measures, Zimbabwean leaders can help to create a more peaceful, inclusive and friendly political environment.

Once the election season is over and the dust has settled, politicians must work towards enacting or strengthening legislation that explicitly prohibits hate speech, ensuring that there are clear consequences for purveyors of such vices.

Why resort to such barbaric means to win votes when people’s hearts and minds can still be won even without whipping up people’s emotions? We wonder.

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