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Organ on healing launches research into violence

THE organ on national healing, reconciliation and integration has embarked on research to establish if Zimbabweans are “naturally or culturally violent” following cases of political violence in the past elections.

Report by Nqobani Ndlovu

Bayathi Ngwenya, the organ’s national director said they would come up with recommendations on what should be done to end a cycle of violence that bedevilled the country before and after independence.

“We are conducting this project to find out the country’s history regarding the issue of violence; mainly on where and how violence came to this country.

“The main question about this project is to find out if Zimbabweans are a violent society. The project seeks to find out if violence emanates from our cultural and traditional background,” said Ngwenya. “We hope the results of the project will help the organ come up with recommendations on what should be done to prevent this cycle of violence.”

Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe, the Midlands State University (MSU) vice-chancellor heads the research project.

The MDC welcomed the organ’s initiative, saying the project would assist in creating an adequate tool kit for addressing, limiting and ultimately exterminating political violence in the country.

Nhlanhla Dube, the MDC spokesperson on Wednesday said: “We need to come to terms with our past and realise that we cannot continue to resort to violence every time we are confronted by different and sometimes difficult views, political or social.

He added: “It is imperative to create an ethos that understands that differences in themselves are good and create creativity in society. We cannot allow ourselves to always gravitate towards violence with the ease of an established guitar player at a musical gala as if violence is our genetic default mode when faced with challenges.”

The MDC-T claimed that 200 of its supporters were killed by Zanu PF militia and state security agents during the 2008 elections.
Effie Ncube, a Bulawayo-based analyst said he hoped that the findings would not be suppressed just like the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe Commissions.

“There has to be an undertaking on the part of the organ that this will not be another Chihambakwe Commission whose findings were never made public,” said Ncube.

“This is an initiative that should be welcomed by everyone interested in the pursuit of accountability, open governance, justice and a lasting solution to our violent past.”

The Dumbutshena Report contained the findings of a Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances at Entumbane and other demobilisation camps following clashes between Zipra and Zanla guerillas in 1981 while the Chihambakwe Report contains findings of a Commission of Inquiry investigating the Gukurahundi massacres.

It is estimated that 20 000 civilians were murdered by the North-Korean trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces during the Gukurahundi era.

The two commissions reported to then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe but their reports were never made public. The government argued that the reports were “specified” for use by the government only.

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