Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leaders to launch national healing Friday

July 22, 2009

The Zimbabwe Times

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe and his partners under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) will on Friday come together to commission three days which have been set aside by government to observe national healing in Zimbabwe.

This follows a Presidential proclamation last week which designated the period between this Friday and Sunday as the days to mark the dedication of national healing.

The three days, which shall not be public holidays, will see church groups, traditional leaders and spirit mediums leading rituals all in the name of national healing.

“This process would be led by the signatories to the GPA at a ceremony that has been scheduled for Friday, July 24 at the Rainbow Towers ,” John Nkomo, one of the three co-ministers in charge of Zimbabwe’s organ on national healing, integration and reconciliation told journalists Wednesday.

Nkomo, a Zanu-PF minister, said the national healing process would focus on the pre- and post-independence period, and would be followed by a programme in which the ministers will visit provinces to reinforce the spirit of national healing.

He refused to outline the programme saying they were still trying to engage experts to study the mindsets of Zimbabweans on how they wanted the emotive subject to be dealt with.

Nkomo said since their appointment as ministers in charge of national healing, they had met church representatives, traditional leaders, trade unionists, war veterans civic organizations to gauge their opinion on how they want the process to be conducted.

He said the national healing organ, which was incepted at the formation of the unity government in February this year, will not give in to pressure by groups agitating for the incorporation of justice on perpetrators of political violence.

He said justice would be done in a Zimbabwean way where emphasis would be on forgiveness.

“We will concentrate on addressing the causes and not the symptoms,” he said.

“Virtually no one has not suffered some form of injustice,” said Nkomo. “No one has not been a victim at one time or another. They may be very few who have not been perpetrators at one time or another.

“All of us have gone through injustices. We have been victims and probably we are the best people to oversee this process.”

Sekai Holland, co-minister from the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said conflict resolution in Zimbabwe would be done in the true African way.

“In the traditional African society, the concept of justice is different because it is all inclusive.

“When the pre-colonial period started, there were no jails. That did not mean there was no crime. There was a way of dealing with conflict together.

“Our form of justice does not separate people. Rather, it forces them to come together and to deal with the problems decisively.

“The environment has to promote the togetherness of the people so together they can look for solutions to the problems without any discrimination.”

Gibson Sibanda, the third co-minister who comes from the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, said those calling for justice were people who had ironically benefited from the 1980 blanket amnesty which was announced by Mugabe, then newly elected Zimbabwean leader.

The ministers, however, conceded the continuation of violence in some areas in Zimbabwe but said the problem was not serious enough to derail the national healing process.

But some observers have criticized the secretive manner in which the three ministers have elected to handle the crucial matter.

Victims of political violence are calling for some form of compensation for deaths, injuries, theft of livestock and some transgressions that they were repeatedly subjected to by the perpetrators.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have, since independence in 1980, been subjected to recurrent acts of State-sponsored political violence mostly on supporters of Mugabe’s opponents.

Victims variously estimated at up to 20 000 died at the hands of President Mugabe’s North Korean-trained Five Brigade in the early 1980s in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

The country witnessed a recurrence of political violence following the rejection of a government-sponsored constitution in the 2000 constitutional referendum.

Between 200 and 300 mostly MDC supporters were killed by vindictive Zanu-PF militants who were out to punish Zimbabweans for voting against Mugabe in the 2008 presidential elections.

But as government unveils its national healing programme, some MDC legislators are still being taken to court for cases which the MDC says are trumped up.

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