THE violence that erupted at Zanu PF provincial meetings in Masvingo and Mutare over the weekend was inevitable in the wake of the hate language used by party leaders in the past few weeks.
Tension has been building up in Zanu PF since last month when First Lady Grace Mugabe embarked on a nationwide tour to ostensibly thank her supporters after she was nominated to lead the women’s league.
Grace’s tours spawned new slogans such as “Down with Gamatox’ and “Forward with Mazowe Orange Crush”.
The slogans had to be banned by the Zanu PF politburo last week because they were clearly inflammatory.
The First Lady also used very emotional language against Vice-President Joice Mujuru who she called all sorts of things before asking President Robert Mugabe to “baby dump” her.
Mujuru, to her credit, has remained composed amidst the clear provocation.
However, it is clear as demonstrated by the stage-managed protests at the Zanu PF Headquarters last Thursday that her opponents are going for broke.
Mugabe did not help matters when he failed to discourage the rented crowd from agitating for violence.
Some of the protesters displayed placards that denounced Mujuru as “the witch from Dotito”.
Mugabe took the insults a step further when he claimed that war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was possessed by Satan.
Some Zanu PF supporters seem to have taken the vilification campaign to heart, hence the skirmishes in Masvingo and Mutare.
The infighting is bound to get worse in the wake of the apparent purge of provincial chairpersons that are seen as Mujuru supporters.
Zanu PF will hold nominations for three posts in the presidium and for the central committee in the weeks ahead.
The bad blood that now exists between the rival factions in the ruling party does not bode well for peace.
Mugabe and other party leaders ought to be more responsible and put out the fires instead of fuelling them.
The first step would be to halt hate speech with immediate effect.