What would be your reaction if I were to tell you that the British government was engaging various Zimbabwe civil society organizations – let us say, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), or Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) – to find healing and closure to the grave suffering caused by colonization on Zimbabweans?
Would you not find that extremely odd? Actually, would you not consider such insincerity and impertinence an unforgivable insult on the people of Zimbabwe, who had suffered immeasurably, due to nearly a century of repressive colonial rule?
The major question would be: why would the British not had engaged directly with Zimbabweans themselves, instead of civil society organizations, who would not even have been given the mandate to represent them?
Of course, this is just an analogy – as the British have never even bothered to undertake any semblance of talks with those that were at the receiving end of its imperialist policies.
However, something disturbingly identical to the above example is currently underway right here in Zimbabwe – as witnessed by the government delegation, led by president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, that met with Matebeleland civil society organizations in Bulawayo on 22 August 2020, under the pretext of finding healing and closure to the Gukurahundi genocide perpetrated by the very same regime that is facilitating these talks.
If anything could be bizarre under the sun, then this certainly takes the gold medal!
I love examples, so here goes another one.
Let us say that I am known to have cold-bloodedly killed someone (and dumped the body in a place unknown to anyone else), and gruesomely beaten up, tortured, and raped his sister – but, then, I do not even bother approaching the victim and the family, rather instead opting to negotiate with the local church (which none of the family members even attends), and proceed to arrange with them to exhume and rebury the corpse.
In all this, I never even acknowledge that I did anything wrong, neither do I hand myself over to law enforcement authorities, to face justice for my heinous crimes – but, instead, I proceed to portray myself as some sort of peace-building mediator.
Even though I am not into movies, I would have most definitely loved to watch, if this had been one – however, it is not, as real people, and real lives was mercilessly and cold-heartedly massacred, raped, had their limps chopped off, and tortured (in their tens of thousands) by an unrepentant and villainous regime – which, as opposed to meeting directly with the victims, acknowledging its sadistic crimes, sincerely apologizing, being made accountable, and negotiating restitution – the perpetrators are now making themselves appear as some peacemaking mediators, engaging civil society organizations, that have absolutely nothing to do with the victims, whilst arranging to exhume and rebury those they butchered.
The phrase, “trying to bury the evidence” immediately comes to mind. Otherwise, what else is anyone expected to think, as this whole charade does not make any sense at all.
Furthermore, listening to the excited civil society organizations, curiously naming themselves, ‘Matebeleland Collective’, one would be excused for concluding that the perpetrators of this ever-lasting injustice on a defenceless Ndebele speaking people, had found a ready and willing partner in pulling wool over these innocent victims’ eyes.
If not, how else can anyone explain the self-satisfaction exhibited by these organizations over these engagements with the regime – the most recent one being the third – without ever hearing a single word of demanding accountability, or direct contacts between the perpetrators and the victims, before rushing to agree on exhumation and reburials?
I have always maintained that the surest way to detect and identify a remorseless and unreformed abusive person, is his insistence that his victim quickly heals, forgives him, and moves on, acting all jovially, whilst pretending that nothing terrible ever happened – especially, without so much as an acknowledgement of having committed any wrong, and preparedness to face any consequences.
That is exactly what we are sadly witnessing in this Gukurahundi genocide engagement sham – since, there is undoubtedly no sincerity at all, by a regime that found it necessary to unleash a whole military brigade on an unarmed and non-violent population, whose only ‘crime’ was simply being a member of a tribe the powers-that-be did not like.
As someone who witnessed some of this evil unfolding right in front of my eleven year old eyes, and have often been approached by various victims of this government’s vile and despicable hateful repression, for me to highlight their plight, and demand justice – I feel a brutal stabbing in my heart over this callous insensitivity.
This has all the hallmarks of a government that merely wants this issue to be swept under the carpet, and never to be raised again – without any genuine accountability, healing, and closure – unfortunately, with the open complicity of the local civil society – a plan that is well calculated to silence any voices that had been previously making a lot of noise over this vicious and heartless crime against humanity, whilst leaving the real poor victims without a voice, and without true healing and closure.
This whole ‘engagement’ process is a huge big trick – and no one should be allowed to get away with it.
Indeed, the nation can not stay in one place for four decades, and desperately needs to move forward – but, that can only be achieved with the seriousness and honesty such an emotive and grave matter demands – as, any attempts for taking shorts cuts, will inevitably fail, and possibly lead to tribal conflict in the country.
As someone once said, “Short cuts, are usually wrong cuts” – therefore, there is need for unfeigned healing and closure, which should be undertaken without trying to short-circuit the process, so as to avoid accountability – since, it has never worked in any situation before, and will certainly never work in the future.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on Whatsapp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.