Zimbabwe national healing; reconciliation; integration and peace building agenda, requires leadership with clear conscience, with political will; who are sincere, and not the type of leadership who are part to perpetrators of human rights violations.
The nation and its citizens continue to witness human rights violations; democratic suppression; the unabated grand state assets stripping/corruption; the abductions of innocent people, and poor economic policies which are all a threat to the emancipation and safety of the citizens. All these breeds discontent among the citizens and are a proof of the level of the regime’s insincerity to heal the wounds of the past atrocities and to prevent recurrences.
What is worrying the MDC, the people’s party, is that the violence and torture in the country is perpetrated mainly by state agents and their ancillaries. Yet state authorities have a duty to ensure people’s safety, and rights to freedom of expression. It is the state’s obligation to facilitate and protect the right of the citizens. Zimbabwe’s problem is however further compounded by what has been seen by many as the government’s unwillingness to engage honestly and genuinely with the past, possibly because a good number of past and current serving senior government officials fear implication.
Indeed it is a hurdle to ensure effective national healing agenda when the perpetrators are the ones in the driving of the healing policies and programmes…
We ought to build confidence, through demonstrated practical political will, and sincerity. The constitutional institutions for healing and human rights’ independence should be strengthened and adequately resourced. You cannot give people confidence, or expect concerted efforts in implementation when the successive political appointed heads of organs for national healing have serious negative human rights records of human rights violations, and abused of their high offices and are implicated in past political violence, such as the case of the immediate past Vice President Mpoko, and the current incumbent, as heads of the institutions for healing and peace. The former’s efforts to convince the nation that events of the Matabeleland and the Midlands massacre was a product of Western conspiracy and nothing that could be blamed on anyone in our own country was a mockery of the people, while the latter’s alleged involvement in cases of political assaults and violence compromise their appointment and trust as heads of organ for healing and peace. It amounts to an attempt to forge national unity and reconciliation through the suppression of truth and constant denial and victim blaming on the part of perpetrators.
Hence the whole agenda lacks political will, and makes people angry and stakeholders, including victims of violence and interested organisations, would not agree to have alleged perpetrators of violence lead the process of healing. True to that, this position is logical and clear as accepting these people is tantamount to expect a criminal to preside over his own trial.
Thus for four decades since independence, Peace continues to elude the nation. And the so called new dispensation Just like its predecessor, have failed the nation and citizens as regards implementation of the Agenda meant to heal the wounds from the past atrocities, and the prevention of further human rights violations, prevention of the state instigated violence, prevention of grand corruption by cartels made up of the ruling elite, and the need to ensure of enabling environment for citizens to choose national leadership freely. All these are major sources of discontent, disharmony among the citizens, and breeds leadership legitimacy crisis that affect peace and national development. Regarding ‘Corruption’ it is both a source of, and consequence of instability and conflict and a factor in exacerbating them
ZIMBABWE needs a meaningful culture of peace.”
Investing in National peace gives the impetus of development. A nation at war with itself/citizens will never enjoy meaningful development
Concerted collective efforts are needed to continue to engage issues around past human rights violations, including the liberation war period. The starting point would be to address the past atrocities in Ernest, with sufficient political will, and in a manner that permanently heals the wounds from past atrocities: reconcile differences; Integrates communities: and prevent future recurrences.
Because, of both the pre and post-colonial state’s failure to uphold the rule of law and guarantee civil and political liberties, Zimbabwe has experienced nine distinct periods of gross human rights violations in pre and post-colonial period 1970 to 2019.
The 1970s gross injustices during the Liberation Struggle
The Ghukurahundi campaign between 1983 and 1987 that left more than 20 000 people dead, dislocated the lives of millions and was associated with the deliberate denial of identity documents: humanitarian services: and the general destruction of livelihoods, and instilled perpetual fear.
Violent farm invasions in year 2000. The invasions resulted in the displacement of 400 000 farm workers and displacement of 1.8 million members of farm worker families and the deaths of many farm workers. The violent invasions also resulted in the displacement of over 4000 white farmers of which several were killed.
State-sponsored violence during successive campaigns for national elections beginning 1985 resulting in the death of hundreds of people mainly opposition supporters. Injuries, loss of property, loss of livelihoods, and internally displaced people.
Operation Murambatsvina in May, June and July 2005 that displaced more than 700 000 people, loss of livelihoods and destruction of property.
The brutal 27 June, 2008 Presidential run-off campaign in which more than 300 people were killed, more than 10 000 injured, 20 000 homes were destroyed and more than 200 000 people were displaced.
The 1st August 2018 Harare shooting and killing of civilians by armed soldiers during protest on perceived delay and rigging of Presidential elections, now the source of leadership legitimacy crisis.
The 14 January 2019 shooting and killing of civilians by armed soldiers during protests on fuel and other commodity skyrocketing price.
The wave of unprecedented abductions during 2019
There is therefore need for ‘Case Specific Taskforce/teams’ to be established for each of the Past atrocity, with clear Terms of References, and timelines, and working within the constitutional framework and with the institutions for peace as enshrined under Section 251 to 253 of the constitution, and supported with clear, sincere state funding. Reports of the previous but concealed reports of inquiries by state established commissions of inquiry, such as the Chihambwakwe, Chidyausiku, Dumbujena etc commissions, as well as those of independent commissions of inquiry, such as the CCJP, the ZimRights etc should be made available for the Task Teams, whose mandates; inter-alia will be to bring closure to the issues.
That said, the MDC’s ideal, realistic and sincere position on national peace are clearly enunciated in its policy documents, the Sustainable and Modernisation Agenda for Real Transformation Partnership (SMART), and the Zimbabwe’s Roadmap to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy (RELOAD) www.mdc.co.zw, and backed by a leadership that is God fearing, and unlike the 4 decade regime, the MDC leadership have no human blood on its hands.
Thus the MDC’s position is to prioritise the importance of national peace and stability to sustainable development and is committed to facilitating and instituting a national healing, reconciliation, integration and due care program for the victims as a pre-requisite for nation building and sustainable democracy and development.
As a people’s party, with a visionary leadership, the vision for peace based agenda is to create a just, free, peaceful, transparent, integrative, transformative, developmental nation at peace with itself, with every citizen, and with all other nations and peoples.
The party mission is to champion the process of national healing, through correcting past injustices, healing the wounds, preventing recurrences; ushering comprehensive, inclusive, consultative participation of all stakeholders, particularly survivors victims, religious and traditional and cultural leadership: ensuring just, non-vindictive, nation building and integration.
The party is cognisant that, conflict, attrition and intolerance have contributed to the erosion of the Zimbabwean economy.
To reclaim Zimbabwe, mechanisms must be created that eradicate political violence. The wounds of the so many injustices over the years have never healed. The ‘top-down approaches’ have suppressed the voices of survivors and victims. In order to move forward, wrongs of the past must be corrected, but in an inclusive, just and non-vindictive way. The future must not be a prisoner of the past, but equally so, past grievances must not be sacrificed at the altar of future dreams
The legacy of impunity must be addressed, with the view to ensure the non-recurrence of violations of human rights. A comprehensive programme of transitional justice will have to be formulated and implemented. Under this programme, the following principles will apply:
Comprehensive, inclusive, consultative participation of all stakeholders, particularly survivors, victims, religious and traditional and community leaders.
The duty and obligation on the State to apologise for all atrocities.
The establishment of confessions, truth telling and truth seeking.
Acknowledgement of wrong doing.
Justice, compensation and reparations.
National healing and reconciliation.
Non-repetition (NEVER AGAIN).
Gender equity and gender sensitivities.
Transparency and accountability.
Nation building and reintegration.
As can be seen, the programme combines elements of restorative justice to balance the delicate attainment of both reconciliation and justice in line with transformative agenda. An integral vehicle of the transitional justice programme will be to strengthen the independence of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission as enshrined under Section 251 to 253 of the constitution.
It would be suffice to cap the effective Policy Interventions and Peace Initiatives with the following committees operating under the umbrella of an adequately equiped National Peace and Reconciliation Commission:
Truth Committee : to conduct individual hearings from perpetrators and victims. Victims of human rights violations will be entitled to give their individual testimonies. A comprehensive process of truth telling by perpetrators as an incentive to amnesty should complement this. It should also be the duty of the Truth Committee to provide legal assistance to victims. Individual testimonies, truth-telling sessions and event-specific hearings should be open to the public except in exceptional circumstances as determined by the Commission
Justice and Amnesty Committee (JAC): responsible for recommending whether or not to grant amnesty to perpetrators of human rights violations on a case-by-case basis. A criterion should be set to determine the legibility for amnesty such as the context and circumstances of the offense and the nature of the act. The hybrid system recognizes that to facilitate a new, stable and democratic Zimbabwe some amnesty is necessary but the people’s party led administration will not support a blanket amnesty.
The Commission should determine which human rights atrocities are capable of receiving amnesty. The position is that perpetrators should be categorized depending on the gravity and circumstances of human rights crimes committed. JAC should then refer what it considers unpardonable cases to be transferred to the state’s criminal justice department.
Compensation and Healing Committee (CACH) : to determine the need for compensation, the nature of compensation and implementation measures to facilitate access to government services. The position is adoption of three broad modes of compensation outlined below:
Individual Compensation Grants : entail financial compensation to individuals. Although one cannot put monetary value to suffering and pain experienced, this is a way of acknowledging the suffering endured. This compensation will also cover loss of property.
Symbolic Compensation : include helping families to exhume and provide decent burials for loved ones; erection of tombstones; cleansing rituals and ceremonies; expedition in provision of civil documents such as death certificates; legal, medical and psycho-social support for trauma and grief stricken families.
Economic Compensation : The livelihoods of the affected victims potentially suffered significant decline. In addition to politically motivated human rights violations, the administration will be equally committed to redress socio-economic and property rights violations during the identified times. Broadly this will be anchored on macro-economic stabilization and growth in ways that allow equal opportunities to participate in the economic activity as substantiated in the economic blueprints.
Underlying philosophy is that peace will not be durable without economic stability and rebuilding of people’s livelihoods.
Conflict Prevention Committee (CPC) : The role of the CPC is to put in place post-conflict mechanisms that will prevent the recurrence of hostilities and encourage peaceful co-existence. The CPC would seek to make the gains irreversible and ensure that future grievances are solved through institutional and peaceful means.
It will come up with comprehensive programs for government and community interventions to foster a civic political culture. This might be through memorialisation and ritualisation among other initiatives.
As already enunciated, the national healing and peace agenda will entail the Commission working in collaboration with civil society, churches, police, army, courts, churches, traditional leaders and other commissions for rights. This is to ensure that people affected at the grassroots level will effectively participate. Citizen participation will be crucial to lend legitimacy to the national healing, reconciliation and integration programme. National consensus and legitimacy are nurtured when all stakeholders’ work together.
National Peace as Tool for Development: as a recognized key component in ensuring lasting peace will be mainstreamed in the national peace agenda in the various reform platform undertaken to rebuilt the nation, includes on: legal reforms, land rationalization, institutional reforms: security reforms: political reforms: social and cultural agenda: economic agenda.
Overally, and centrally to lasting peace is reconciliation, which involves dealing with the past, taking responsibility and acknowledging wrong doing, and the critical first step in reconciliation is this recognition of guilt, with the acceptance of responsibility for atrocities or other events symbolising inter communal and interpersonal relations Hence the people’s administration’s commitment to programme that promote healing, reconciliation and integration of Zimbabwe polarized for more than 4 decades by gross human rights violations. The MDC administration is committed that the approach will encapsulate both justice and reconciliation ends.
Preservation of peace is a foundation to build a stable and democratic society bonded by the common spirit of national belonging. Ultimately the State will foster a culture of social dialogue as a means to resolve differences and conflict.
Hon Blessing Chebundo
National Secretary : MDC Policy Organ for National Healing: Peace: Reconciliation and Integration (NHPRI)