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National Peace Convention (NPC)
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
December 13, 2002

Convention Background and Objectives

"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other" Psalm 85, vs. 10

Introduction
The Zimbabwean people have been subjected to violence and coercion at many stages in their history:

  • the colonial occupation violated peoples’ right to govern themselves, the land laws and the tax laws dispossessed people of their livelihoods, and was imposed by force under the façade of law;
  • the liberation war period saw an increase of violence and coercion by the Rhodesian state, with detentions, executions, and the forced movement of people into keeps, while the liberation forces also used military discipline and force.

In 1980, Zimbabwe gained independence, and reconciliation was a key plank of the new government’s programme. Thus, the people in our nation looked forward to an era of peace and harmony. While economic progress took place and there was an apparent absence of nationwide conflict, there were still very worrying trends:

  • The indiscriminate and widespread violence (including the use of the army) against civilian population across Matebeleland and the Midlands between 1983 and 1987;
  • The intolerance and organized violence used to prevent the activities of the opposition parties in the 1985, 1990 and 1995/6 elections;
  • The high level of violence during the period from February 2000 to the present time, especially during elections.

This violence has involved numerous deaths, arson, abductions, malicious damage to property, beatings, organized torture, forced displacement of perceived opponents, threats, harassment and terrorizing of opponents. Most seriously affected have been women, children, farm-workers, teachers, and perceived political opponents. A dizzying downward spiral in the economic situation, leading to increasing poverty and destitution, has accompanied violence. Our society is being torn asunder by a climate of fear, intolerance, partisanship, and even hate.

Therefore, Zimbabwe needs peace, tolerance, dialogue and healing in order to move towards stability, genuine and participatory democracy, and economic development that serves the interests of all. It will not "happen", it has to be worked for.

The DRAFT National Peace Accord is proposed as a collective process, which will involve the whole society in taking responsibility for restoring peace to our country. It will be launched at this National Peace Convention.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is a broad and non partisan coalition of more than 300 civil society organisations and fifteen national coalitions. Its work and programme are based on principles of Tolerance, inclusiveness, solidarity and mutual respect and support. The coalition and its member organisations are committed towards establishing and promoting a Zimbabwe based on peace, justice, and non violence. They envision a non partisan, non sexist and non racist nation in which human rights are protected, all citizens are seen as equal, and government, business and civil society alike are transparent, accountable and act with integrity. To this end, the Coalition and its member organisations are committed to proactive measures in line with these principles.

National Peace Building Committee (NPBC)
The National Peace-building Committee, is facilitated by the Peace building Subcommittee of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Its vision is "peace with truth and justice." The mission of the NPBC is to make every Zimbabwean an agent for peace.

To this end, the NPBC:

  • Encourages and supports work for a society that is open for initiatives and creativity;
  • Facilitates a process that equips with skills and motivates all interested sectors to work for peace in Zimbabwe; and
  • Promotes processes that engender responsible citizenship, solidarity and social accountability amongst all Zimbabweans.

The NPBC therefore recognizes that peaceful and harmonious societies need to be dynamic and lively, involving multiple parties, organizations, and initiatives. The violence and intolerance of monolithic politics prevent dynamism and energy in our society. This frustrates the growth of a democratic culture, accountable governance and national development. Without these, peace, justice and reconciliation are not possible.

Some reflections on violence, peace and society
"Violence can only be sustained by lies," wrote Gandhi during his struggle against British imperialism in the 1930s. But, he also wrote, non-violence is the most powerful force in the world, and against it no powers can stand.

Peaceful and harmonious societies need to be dynamic and lively, involving multiple parties, organisations, and initiatives. "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend," wrote a Chinese philosopher. What prevents the dynamism and the energy of the society is the violence of a monolithic and centralised state, which seeks to interfere and to regulate all activities within the society. In the end this control can only be imposed through violence, operated overtly and covertly, directly and indirectly, by the state.

The first Prime Minister of independent Zimbabwe spoke to the nation on 4 March 1980 in these terms:

" ……only a government that subjects itself to the rule of law has any moral right to the demands of its citizens to the obedience of the rule of law…..surely this is now the time to beat our swords into ploughshares so we can attend to the problems of developing our economy and our society…..I urge you, whether you are black or white, to join me in a new pledge to forget our grim past, forgive others and forget, join hands in a new amity, and together, as Zimbabweans, trample upon racialism, tribalism and regionalism, and work hard to reconstruct and rehabilitate our society as we reinvigorate our economic machinery"

Peace is the desire of all humane and balanced people, because it provides the opportunity for living life to the full.

It is in this context that the National Peace Building Coalition proposed the holding of the National Peace Convention. The Convention can only come to fruition through the full, active and enthusiastic participation of all sectors of Zimbabwean society. Only through our common resolve and action can peace and tolerance be restored, nurtured and protected in our country.

The Vision: Peace with truth and justice in Zimbabwe
Conference Theme: Another Zimbabwe is possible

PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
The National Peace Convention (NPC) starts on Friday, the 13th December 2002 with deliberations of a select ‘Think Tank’ of approximately 50 Zimbabweans.

There will be an official opening of the convention on the evening of the 13th December 2002 at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel. All participants to the main convention on Saturday 14 December 2002 are invited to the cocktail launch, which starts at 18:30 hours. There will also be a Peace Concert on the evening of the 14th December 2002 to round off the proceedings. Several leading musicians from Zimbabwe are billed to perform at this concert.

The broad Objectives of the Convention are to:

  • Share regional experiences in National healing, peace, justice and reconciliation as well as the relevance of these experiences to current situation in Zimbabwe;
  • Review the situation of conflict and tension in the country;
  • Consolidate an audit of the initiatives and activities leading towards peace;
  • Agree a common perspective and process for peace-building.

Convention outcomes

  • Launching and signing of a National Peace Accord by Zimbabweans as a to initiate a process that can involve the whole society in taking responsibility for restoring in Zimbabwe;
  • A multi-sectoral position on peace, justice and reconciliation issues in Zimbabwe
  • A collective strategy for dealing with conflict at the local, national and regional levels.

Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition fact sheet

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