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Reconciliation needs an honest broker

THERE are several areas of the reconciliation exercise that must be clarified to enable public understanding of its intended goals and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission’s term. Its parameters are still shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

By Jonathan Maphenduka

Several weeks after the commission held its first meeting in Matabeleland, it is still unclear what the guiding principles of the commission are. It is not enough to say the commission will be guided by the founding Act.

It is imperative that the commission’s terms of reference be known, and yet the commission does not appear to be in a hurry to publish them.

I was recently advised to look for a Government Gazette in which something about the Act was publlished but, to my chagrin, the local Government Printer’s shop could not help.

The work of the commission may well flounder on its inability to publish these terms of reference. It is also amazing that the Commission has not established offices in Bulawayo to facilitate disemination of information.

Is the commission a briefcase organisation created for the boys to have something from which to earn money? The composition of the commission leaves a great deal to be desired.

A local information office is absolutely necessary for those who want to make written submissions. It is not going to be easy for the commission to capture information by addressing public gatherings.

Written submissions therefore will form a major part of information to be collatted from which a final report will be compiled. Moreover, the commission should not suffer from financial constraints because this will affect the quality of its work.

If indeed there are financial contraints for the sluggish start of the commission’s work, its report will be seriously compromised and its scope curtailed.

There is an area of the commission’s work which needs to be explained. The government has appointed a special advisor to the president on the effects of the Gukurahundi attrocities.

Professor Clever Nyathi comes from an area where some of the most horrific atrocities were committed.

Why is he being kept, if you like, under the armpit of bureaucracy and has not found time to come to Bulawayo to meet the aggrieved?

He comes to his new job from troubled Lesotho where he held an important mediation post. Can he rely solely on what the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace recorded regarding the atrocities?

One cannot over-emphasise the need for him to have – to borrow a popular cliche – an interface with the victims of the Gukurahundi attrocities.

I’m not calling for him to address rallies. But there is need for him to meet community leaders or those who have influence within that community. This is necessary to build confidence that his appointment is not another window-dressing exercise.

A number of investigations have been made in the past about the attrocities, the results of which have never been published.

Is Prof Nyathi of a charactor to influence the president or is he a man who will buckle under the welter of the president’s office? These are some of the questions that naturally come to one’s mind.

He will be amazed to find how much support he enjoys among his own people for having been chosen to advise the president on this crucial area of reconciliation.

Reconciliation, after years of frigid relations between the people of Matabeleland and the other half of the country, needs an honest broker. In my book, an honest broker is one who has the well-being of the people at heart, first and foremost.

There is an emerging call for the prosecution of the principals in the Gukurahundi tragedy. In an article in The Standard with the headline “Gukurahundi: Time for truth telling is now”, Tamsanqa Mlilo calls for prosecution of those who ordered the genocidal operations.

I have always thought that the truth was told by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in the 1980s. Since then, David Coltart has published a book which touches on the Gukurahundi episode

I have not read Coltart’s book, but those who have read it say it is disappointing because it does not shed more light than is already known.

Like many other people, I thought prosecution was the way to go. I was naive. I’ve now modified my approach to this complex calamity. One must be realistic.

Genocide is a crime under international law. To achieve justice you need to arrest the culprits and bring them before the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

Even countries like the United States, that are critically vociferous about Mugabe the dictator, will not invade Zimbabwe and take him to The Hague to face the music.

We are not Iraq or Libya where oil reserves motivated the invasion of these countries. If we kill one another, why should the Americans have sleepless night about it?
Mugabe was free to travel to Rome to meet the Pope and also visit the World Food Programme to beg for food supplies for starving Zimbabweans. He was free to go anywhere outside the United States and Europe.

Since 2011 President Emmerson Mnangagwa has twice travelled to Geneva to defend Zimbabwe’s condemned human rights violation record. No one has tried to arrest him. So how do you go about prosecuting the culprits in their fortress? And how does one overcome the problem of legislation against their prosecution?

In Zimbabwe genocide is not a crime, is it?

Instead I’ve proposed in my forthcoming book: The Right of Conquest Madness in Matabeleland that the culprits be tried in absentia at the international level and let this ugly patch in this country’s history end there.

This thoughtless shouting about it in the streets is no longer relevant. We have a future to worry about, and reconciliation offers us the underdogs of this nation a golden opportunity to put forward our case for a meaningful change.

Petty politicians in Matabeleland are dancing the jig and hurling insults at the reconcilitian commission.

They have nothing else to offer the people of Matabeleland. Let them be told that there are greater things coming to Matabeleland than aspiring to enter Parliament. The people of Matabeleland must adopt a radical new mindset for change.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe is what it is today because of what happened in 1963 when a polyglot of tribesmen turned their backs against African Nationalism, to form a formidable Axis of Tribalism.

Under the banner of majority rule or the so-called African Democracy, both of which are repugnant, they have abused power, not only against minority groups, but their own people as well.

Let us help them undo their policy of separation and exclusion. They have unleashed incitement of tribal animosity. Let us refuse to give them a free rein that leads to absolute power.

These tribal rulers cannot arrogate to themselves all the good of belonging to this nation.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

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