These are live updates of a dialogue on Zimbabwe’s readiness for an effective national truth, justice, healing and reconciliation process.
Organised by Heal Zimbabwe Trust, which has been instrumental in pushing government to get the NPRC going, the dialogue features presentations by War Veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, Constitutional Law expert Lovemore Madhuku, Women’s rights advocate, Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa, business expert Shingi Munyeza, national healing advocate Moses Mzila Ndlovu, former commercial farmer Ben Freeth, and Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI)
Over a hundred people are gathered here at the Monomotapa Hotel’s Great Indaba Hall and the event started with the screening of a documentary on Zimbabwe’s liberation war.
Takura Zhangazha, who is facilitating the event has opened the event, and has announced that War veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa is not able to attend the event anymore.
Heal ZImbabwe Trust board chairman Okay Machisa, in his opening remarks, is outlining the importance of healing and reconciliation. In his words, the issue is emotive, and requires the nation’s attention.
“Let us be open and not be afraid to speak out about in this meeting….”
Machisa, speaking in Shona, set the tone for the meeting with a remark, “…are we ready to forgive and forgiven.”
Why do we need healing?, Heal Zimbabwe Trust Executive Director Rashid Mahiya explains.
“Zimbabwe has a long history of violations….and there is a culture of fear and mistrust as a result of that.
Because government has acknowledged through the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission that we need reconciliation and healing, we must not sit and watch, but participate as a nation.
According to Mahiya, Heal Zimbabwe has conducted 67 meetings countrywide, raising awareness on the NPRC and the need for national healing and reconciliation.
“We cannot heal without the truth” says Mahiya.
PANELIST SHINGI MUNYEZA PRESENTS
A successful business person and a pastor, Shingi Munyeza starts his presentation on a religious note.
“We need to ask for forgiveness…we need to go back to Jesus, the healer himself.”
Munyeza says there are three causes of why Zimbabwe is where it is- colonialism, tribalism and entitlement by ‘those who brought any amount of freedom to us.”
“We still see each other through colonial lenses, economically. The townships are still the same as they were in the past…”
Munyeza said there is tribalism in critical aspects of Zimbabwe.
“The result of all this is corruption….corruption comes as a result of an artificial shortage by those in power or authority.”
Munyeza says government is largely to blame for ‘economic mismanagement, failure to adapt to new systemts and systematic corruption.’
On healing, Munyeza says the truth is key.
“Truth…we must be able to tell who plundered what and where. There must be protection for the victim and there must be remorse by the perpetrator. You cannot continue to drive your Mercedes Benz knowing the person you plundered from is walking..”
Ending his presentation, Munyeza said there is need for those who lost their savings during the various phases of the country’s economy must be compensated.
A former commercial farmer, Ben Freeth, speaks about the trauma he and other white farmers went through during the government’s land reform programme.
“I believe we have a deep wound,” he says.
Free accuses police of not obeying court on land issues, and said healing can only happen if there is rule of law in the country.
PANELIST ANNA TINARWO PRESENTS
Tinarwo is representing ONHRI.
Tinarwo gives the background of the peace and reconciliation from the days of the unity government, and how the organ was instrumental in the tabling of presentations that brought about the NPRC during the constitution making process.
According to Tinarwo, ONHRI was also actively involved in the drafting of the NPRC bill, which was tabled in Parliament by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko early this year.
Tinarwo says as the bill goes through the due processes, relevant parliamentary committees will be conducting public hearings from 10 to 17 April this year.
PANELIST LOVEMORE MADHUKU PRESENTS
A Constitutional law expert, Madhuku explains that while there has been so much said about ‘truth’ as key to healing, the word only appears three times in the NPRC bill.
Madhuku responds to Tinarwo’s assertion that the NPRC was not supposed to start functioning when the constitution came into effect.
“The the commission was due to start operating on the ‘effective date’ of the 2013 constitution means it was supposed to be effective from the day the constitution was adopted,” he said.
PANELIST RUDO GAIDZANWA PRESENTS
She speaks passionately about the violations that women have gone through from the days of the liberation struggle.
“We have to deal with violation from both sides because we need to ask ourselves, is it right to violate human rights for a particular cause?”
Gaidzanwa says it is important to know that the violators are not one side,and perpetrators are not the other side.
“People move, one can be a perpetrator in an other situation, and a victim in another situation. We have to take account of that.”
She evokes questions on how the healing and reconciliation has to take place.
“Should the victim be pressured to forgive?…reconciliation should be sincere…”
PANELIST MOSES MZILA-NDLOVU PRESENTS
Mzila-Ndlovu speaks about Gukurahundi massacres that took place in Matabeleland in the 1980s after he then prime minister , President Robert Mugabe unleashed the North-Korean trained fifth brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army in Matebeleland. Over 20 00 people are estimated to have been killed.
Mzila-Ndlovu gives a historical perspective, alleging that the situation of tribalism, which was present in the war, was made worse when Zanu PF won political power in 1980. “Zapu was then seen as an impediment to Zanu PF’s desire to achieve a one party state.”
Mzila-Ndlovu says even during the Gukurahundi era, the people of Matebleland did not vote for Zanu PF, and this goes to show how violence can change people’s views.
He narrates an incident that happened during Gukurahundi when a family was forced into a hut and burnt to death.
People are so biiter, that is why we need healing.
“If you want to seek a peaceful resolution to the issues, then you must be genuine…but I believe the people in power right now are not genuine.”
“We must be able to weed out the issue of tribalism and weed it out forever.”
Shingi Munyeza responds to a question on the role of the church, and said “the church is doing something..watch this space..the church cannot go about saying everything that will be happening,” he said, adding that the church was a fundamental instrument in the 2012 government of national unit as well.
Moses Mzila-Ndlovu responds to a question about the atrocities committed by the freedom fighters during the liberation struggle.
“I cannot speak on behalf of war veterans, but I admit there are atrocities that were committed during the liberation struggle and these must also be accounted for during the healing process.”
Anna Tinarwo responds to a question on the role of traditional leaders in the healing process, who have been accused of spearheading violence during election time. She says traditional leaders are critical in providing insight on traditional structures and processes of resolving conflict.
Responding to a question about the opposition parties’ role in the inclusive government, Mzila-Ndlovu said they were ‘sucked’ into the system.
“If anyone in the opposition politics claims that they were getting less than $5000 a day in allowances on foriegn trips, they are lying,” he said.
20:40 the discussion ends with prayer
Thousands of Zimbabweans have been left traumatised by the recurring politically motivated violence and conflict, which dates back to the time before country’s liberation struggle.
Statistics show that over 50 000 people died in the 1966 to 1979 struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence from British rule.
During the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s more than 20 000 people were reportedly killed by a North-Korean trained 5 Brigade under Mugabe’s tenure as prime minister of independent Zimbabwe.
As political violence, polarisation and government crackdown on opposition continued into the 1990s and 2000s estimates are that over 300 people were killed and thousands displaced in 2008 alone when Mugabe lost a first round election to opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Yet no peace and reconciliation process has taken place as what happened in South Africa and Rwanda.
Zimbabwe moved towards that stage in 2008 when regional bloc, Sadc’s facilitation led Mugabe into a unity government under which a new Constitution was produced, to — among other aims — ensure transitional justice.
A key element of the new constitution is Chapter 12, which provides for the establishment of independent commissions, among them the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) whose tasks are to “ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation” among other functions that foster national unity and cohesion.
While this came as good news , deliverance is yet to come as the commission is yet to be functional, nearly three years into its 10 year lifespan.
Civic society organisations like Heal Zimbabwe Trust, among many others, have therefore continually pressured government to get the NPRC running and the dialogue that is being conducted today is part of those efforts.