via Is Zim ready for an effective reconciliation process? – DailyNews Live Maxwell Sibanda • 12 April 2016
HARARE – National healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe remains emotive and requires the full attention of the whole nation, hence the National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) Bill must be true to these concerns, a human rights activist has said.
Chairperson of the Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) board and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) director Okay Machisa told a public discussion in Harare recently that as Zimbabweans we need to be open and not be afraid to speak out.
“Are we ready to forgive and be forgiven?” asked Machisa.
Speaking at an Indaba themed: “Is Zimbabwe ready for an effective, truth, justice, peace and reconciliation process” where he urged people to participate to ensure a better NPRC Bill in the forthcoming public consultations this month.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security will hold Public Hearings throughout the country on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill H.B. 13, 2015 from the April 10 to 17, 2016.
Heal Zimbabwe Trust director Rashid Mahiya said the Harare Indaba was to gather public ideas on the broader issues on national healing, reconciliation and peace-building and raise awareness on the NPRC.
In March 2016, collaborating with other civil society organisations HZT conducted 59 well-attended meetings across the country mainly in small towns in collaboration with ZimRights.
Evangelist and businessman Shingi Munyeza said there was need for economic healing for those who lost savings and pensions during the period of economic collapse, while calling for the national leadership to religiously repent of their wrongdoing.
Munyeza said the church was still engaging with the political leaders away from the public eye. He also cited official corruption, pervasive sense of entitlement and greed by those who participated in the liberation struggle, tribalism, colonialism and sanctions as contributing to the current economic malaise.
Commercial farmer Ben Freeth said that white farmers still expected compensation for farms which they bought but were arbitrarily acquired during the land reform programme.
Freeth said government had disregarded the previous Sadc Tribunal rulings, and they expected to be allowed to use their farming skills again to salvage the country from food insecurity which saw the country importing maize from Zambia where some of the farmers went.
Freeth suggested that property rights over land needed to be extended to communal lands to allow for rural people to start bankable farming projects, thereby restoring the place of agriculture as the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy.
Constitutional Law expert Lovemore Madhuku argued that the law in Zimbabwe is only there to make the government unaccountable, adding the NPRC Bill is not going to work since the constitution itself was flawed.
“You cannot hope to get in the Bill what you lost in the Constitution,” he said, outlining that the national charter did not adequately address the issues of truth-telling and justice, except emphasising reconciliation and peace.
The law expert further said the NPRC Bill gave too much power to the line minister and needed to be revised, while explaining that the NPRC could operate for less than 10 years as the effective date mentioned in the Constitution referred to the date the Constitution was assented to.
Former minister and ex-combatant Moses Mzila Ndlovu retraced the genesis of the Gukurahundi conflict to the disagreements between liberation movements from way back in the war days, the 1980 elections and accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party of using the crackdown in an unsuccessful attempt to establish a one-party state.
Mzila-Ndlovu buttressed the centrality of a clear apology from perpetrators as indispensable in the efforts to find closure regarding many conflicts that have beset the country.
Rudo Gaidzanwa said women have been at the unique receiving end of sexual violations like rape during the various conflicts usually by all feuding parties.
The academic said it was not surprising that there were a lot of human rights violations during the post-independence era due to the fact that there has been impunity regarding past violations.
Gaidzanwa said: “Reconciliation can only take place when it is principled and in good faith. Unprincipled reconciliation can be an embrace of political evil. People want to have reconciliation when they do not want to own up to what they did.”
She also mentioned that a lot of war veterans did not receive rehabilitation after the liberation war, and that usually the line between the violators and the violated kept changing into circumstances in which some groups of people are now both.
A representative from the department of Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration in the President’s Office assured the meeting that they would critically consider the input from the meeting on the NPRC Bill.
“Our being here today is not by mistake, but we want to enrich the document,” the representative said.