Thursday, July 24, 2008

International Church Groups Call for Peace in Zimbabwe

H.E President Thabo Mbeki Republic of South Africa
President & First Secretary Robert Mugabe ZANU PF Party
President Morgan Tsvangirai Movement for Democratic Change
President Arthur Mutambara Movement for Democratic Change

Joint Global Ecumenical Leaders Statement on the Zimbabwe Political Parties Pact
We, the leaders of the World Council of Churches, World Student Christian Federation, World YWCA, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Alliance of YMCAs wish to congratulate the leadership of the ZANU PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change on signing the Memorandum of Understanding that paves way for the beginning of negotiations towards a lasting resolution of the difficult crisis in Zimbabwe.
We also wish to commend the role, in bringing the parties together, played by the SADC Facilitator, HE President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and his team ; Dr Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission, the Secretary General of the United Nations and his Special Envoy, Ambassador Haile Menkarios.
We believe that the will of the people should be the fundamental basis on which to ground negotiations.
And we greet the beginning of this critical round of negotiations with fervent hope for a new beginning for all Zimbabweans, restoration of peace, prosperity, dignity and the rule of law.

Restatement of Principles and Values

Having walked this journey alongside the churches, civil society and people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain mindful of the principles below ;

Good Faith ; We pray for all the negotiators so that they are are guided by the best interests and deeper aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. We pray that the discussions will be held in complete good faith so that the final agreement becomes a foundation for a lasting and viable solution to the crisis in the country.
Continuing Violence and Human Rights Abuses; We are appalled by reports of continuing violence in many parts of the country, particularly in the rural areas. All forms of violence, harassment, intimidation and torture must cease immediately to provide an environment truly conducive for peaceful negotiations.
Humanitarian Situation; We are saddened that there has not been an official withdrawal of the order banning the field operations of humanitarian aid agencies and NGOs in Zimbabwe. The World Food Programme has recently warned that if these agencies are not allowed immediate access to the communities in need, 5.1 million will face starvation. We therefore call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately and without conditions lift the ban and allow humanitarian aid agencies and NGOs access to the communities in need.
Rule of Law, Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing; We further urge the parties to remain committed to a genuine restoration of the rule of law that rejects impunity but allows true reconciliation and healing. Zimbabwe has witnessed horrific incidences of violence during and after the elections of March 29 and June 27. Many people have lost relatives and friends. Thousands have lost homes and other property. Wounds cut deep. We, together with them, look to you for an agreement that provides for a safe return of displaced people, proper remedies and justice for survivors and their families.
Inclusive Participation; We realise that the Memorandum of Understanding does not provide for the inclusion of civil society, churches, women and young people. None of the negotiating teams from the three parties includes a woman at a time when mothers and women of Zimbabwe continue to face the hardest part of the national challenge. This is most regrettable. We call on you to consider opening a place at the table for representatives of Zimbabwe civil society so that they also bring in the voice and aspirations of the grassroots communities with whom they continue to work closely.

Finally we would like to reaffirm the need to protect the intergrity of elections as the most legitimate and democratic way to express the sovereign will of the people not only in Zimbabwe but throughout Africa. We pray that the negotiations you have begun will help restore faith in the electoral process as a democratic and peaceful means through which the people of Africa can demand accountability from their leaders and contribute to the governance and development of their own societies.

Thank you and may God bless you

Issued by the following general secretaries:

The World Council of Churches
Reverend Dr Samuel KobiaTel : +41 22 791 6111

World Student Christian Federation
Reverend Michael WallaceTel : +41 22 791 6558

World Alliance of Reformed Churches
Reverend Dr Setri NyomiTel : +41 22 791 6505

World YWCA
Ms Nyaradzai GumbonzvandaTel : +41 22 929 6040

World Alliance of YMCAs
Dr Bartholomew ShahaTel : +41 22 849 5100

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Transitional Justice in Zimbabwe

What Price For Peace?

Written by Marlon Zakeyo
Thursday, 07 August 2008
A Masvingo man weeps as he describes on this Solidarity Peace Trust video how MDC activists were tortured and others killed in violence unleashed by Robert Mugabe to ensure that voters did not vote for the MDC in the run-off. Should perpetrators be allowed to get away with it?
When MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai spoke at the memorial service in remembrance of slain party activist, Gift Tandare , he declared that Tandare was a ‘martyr for the cause of the MDC.’
He would have held Gift’s widow’s hand, consoling her and promising that ‘Gift haana kufira mahara’ (Gift didn’t die for nothing). Justice would be served.
But as rumours of an imminent announcement of a deal between the rival parties mount, one cannot help but imagine that Gift Tandare’s widow and thousands of other survivors and families of murdered and disappeared activists must be feeling really lonely, isolated and betrayed right now.
If rumours filtering in from Pretoria are to be believed, Robert Mugabe will be allowed a gradual and honourable exit and a blanket amnesty for all pre-election violence will be declared, presumably by Prime Minister Tsvangirai.
The chiefs of the Joint Operational Command are also reportedly trying to cut immunity deals for themselves in Pretoria. So are we turning full circle here? All the way back to 1980, 1987 and 2002. Collective amnesia. Turning the other cheek, allowing impunity and moving on for the sake of ‘peace’?
Several commentators and Zimbabwean NGOs have long debated the need and options for transitional justice in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. The nature of the transition from ZANU PF rule would determine the process of addressing past atrocities and how retrospective the transitional justice would be.
Options most talked about would be to forgive and forget and focus on economic recovery; or to carry out comprehensive prosecutions of all persons involved in perpetrating, condoning or ordering violations; or to select ‘small fish’ for criminal prosecution so that top military and ZANU PF brass feel safe enough to allow a new Zimbabwe to be born; or to focus on restorative justice and make sure perpetrators compensate (varipe) their victims or families of the victims.
In its 2008 policy statement, the MDC promises that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be launched within three months of assumption of office by an MDC government. The policy document also envisages further investigations and prosecutions in the domestic courts and also establishment of compensation courts that would ensure that victims of violence and displacement are adequately compensated by the State.
Sadly the secrecy shrouding the talks make it very difficult for anyone to know whether these promises by the MDC to the nation are being given serious consideration. Whilst many Zimbabweans understand the need for compromise it is vital that victims of violence and terror be finally put at the centre of decision-making processes.
Civil society must continue to struggle for the victims and families’ right to know the truth. The family of Patrick Nabanyama who disappeared in 2000 will be looking for the truth. Adele Chiminya, widow of Tsvangirai’s murdered campaign manager, Tichaona Chiminya, has gone the world over looking for justice.
She can not be told that economic recovery is more paramount than justice for her husband, can she? What justice for the 200, 000 people displaced since March 29 and ended up seeking protection at Harvest Houses and different Western embassies? Over 7000, 000 people who lost their homes during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005?
In the recent election violence, most victims knew their torturers and killers. Civil society organisations have bravely and tirelessly documented violations since 1998. For the Gukurahundi atrocities, someone must know where the Chihambakwe Commission Report is hidden. In any case the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace also documented that part of our history thoroughly.
The road has been long and painful for all Zimbabweans, but the desperation for normalisation and a ‘quick fix’ must not allow us to trade justice for peace. The MDC itself concedes in its policy document that the truth of the human rights abuses from 1980 to date were never addressed, victims never acknowledged, and these demons have come back to haunt us.
It is time to exorcise those demons so that we move into a truly « New Zimbabwe ». The whole fabric of Zimbabwean society has been violated in one way or another and we need to talk to each other and confess what we have done to one another.
Rwanda has been doing this over the last 15 years and at the same time being able to transform its economy and the lives of its people. I have seen this in Kigali with my own eyes. To have set a precedent where the bullet is mightier than the ballot is horrible enough.
To neglect the deep wounds of victims of violence and torture, widows and orphans of political violence - whatever the prize - is beyond the pale.

*Marlon Zakeyo is a Zimbabwean lawyer based at the Zimbabwe Human Rights Advocacy Office in Geneva. Email him on

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

German Company Stops Printing Money for Zimbabwe's Government

WSCF applauds German company's halt of Zimbabwean money deliveries

2 July 2008

WSCF has applauded the news that German company Giesecke & Devrient will halt its production of banknotes, which had been being used to pay Mugabe's Zanu PF government officials and their militia. In a press statement released yesterday, the Management Board of Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, Munich announced their decision to cease delivering banknote paper to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe with immediate effect. Over the last several weeks, WSCF has joined German human rights and civil society organisations in an advocacy campaign to show the German people that German company G&D banknotes were being used by the Zanu PF government to fund the corruption and violence currently being inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe.A letter was sent by WSCF’s Zimbabwe Advocacy desk last week, calling on the German people, their government and the company itself to immediately stop the production and delivery of banknotes. The letter followed on from an earlier letter sent by WSCF General Secretary Michael Wallace, which had called for the same action.The G&D company’s press statement cited its reasons for halting production of the Zimbabwean banknotes as being “in response to an official request from the German government and calls for international sanctions by the European Union and United Nations.” "Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe, which is mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes account of the critical evaluation by the international community, German government and general public," explained Dr. Karsten Ottenberg, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Giesecke & Devrient GmbH.

The full text of the letter sent to the company from the World Student Christian Federation follows below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Desperate Existence for Ordinary Zimbabweans

Monday, 30 June, 2008, 18:54
A 'desperate existence' for ordinary Zimbabweans

As the fallout continues over the validity of Zimbabwe’s presidential election, Conor Lennon talks to Marlon Zakeyo from the Swiss-based Zimbabwe Human Rights Office about the election’s impact on the country’s ordinary people.