Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
Zimbabwe is on the right path towards realising peace and reconciliation through the leadership of President Mnangagwa, who has shown the political will to address issues affecting communities such as Gukurahundi and others, deputy chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Commissioner Lilian Chigwedere has said.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Midlands provincial peace committee meeting in Gweru yesterday, Comm Chigwedere said President Mnangagwa was leading by example in addressing issues affecting the people.
“The country is on the right path towards realising peace and reconciliation through the leadership of President Mnangagwa who has shown political will in addressing issues such as Gukurahundi among others, which affect communities,” she said.
“Other people such as the San community have also benefited from his leadership as he works on addressing issues that affect peace and reconciliation in the country.”
Comm Chigwedere said only Zimbabweans can build the Zimbabwe they want.
“We don’t need outsiders to solve our issues,” she said.
“If there is any problem or conflict, we need to enter into a room, close the door and address the problem without involving outsiders and that way we are able to build the Zimbabwe we need.”
Comm Chigwedere said peace building was about promoting healing, rehabilitation, reconciliation, unity, social cohesion and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Zimbabwe without external interference.
Her commission was established to facilitate dialogue.
“Resolution of these conflicts will inevitably lead to the promotion of healing, reconciliation and ultimately peace in the country,” said Comm Chigwedere.
“The setting up of peace committees to contribute towards the promotion of peace through dialogue, mediation and conciliation of disputes among communities, individuals and groups as well as the implementation of programmes deemed necessary for the prevention of conflicts all fall squarely within the Constitutional mandate of the NPRC.
“This is in sync with the national development strategy which recognises how violent conflicts before and after independence have negatively impacted not only on development, but also on the social cohesion among Zimbabweans, and these unresolved conflicts need to be addressed in order to have a cohesive nation.”
Comm Chigwedere said over the past two years, Covid-19 has hit the underprivileged and marginalised groups the hardest.
“People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to healthcare, socio-political rights as well as livelihoods support,” she said.
“As peace committees, it is your role to be observant and intervene whenever and wherever possible. The pandemic has also been accompanied by a surge in stigma, discrimination, unresolved disputes and hatred, which only cost more lives instead of saving them.”
Covid-19 has also made Zimbabweans more aware of the need to come up with measures to address conflicts at a local level, hence emphasis on the preventative dialogue, Comm Chigwedere said.
“Currently, there is an increasing shift in focus to the 2023 elections,” she said.
“In order to guarantee non-recurrence of perennial elections-related conflicts, the onus is on you to engage robustly and deliberately in preventive dialogues with all stakeholders to ensure that re-emergence of past experiences are curtailed.
“With the recently relaxed lockdown measures in place, the commission thought it prudent to hold these preventive dialogue meetings with all the 10 provincial peace committees who are the infrastructure for peace in every province. These should soon rather than later cascade to districts and then right down to village level.”
Comm Chigwedere urged members of the commission to be the first to counter hate speech.
“We should be the first to condemn divisive political and resource-based conflicts and facilitate closure to past national conflicts, restore trust and confidence in ourselves as a people,” she said.
“Zimbabwe needs peace in order to achieve the vision of an empowered upper middle-income society by 2030. Let us walk the journey together.”
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima said nation building takes every citizen to participate in issues to do with peace and devolution.
“Our focus should be on departing from a conflictual past to a harmonious future, dealing with the past omissions and commissions to peaceful co-existence of various segments of the society, including people of diverse political views,” he said.
“Promotion of unity across the country and healing wounds of the past and present is a key priority.
“In your work, kindly ensure that you include all groups of people in the province and that your programmes be informed by the input generated from the grassroots.”