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healing process urged
Sithole, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
February 09, 2009
Emmanuel Chiroto, an
opposition councillor and mayor of Harare, is moved to tears as
he recalls the abduction and brutal murder of his wife, Abigail,
by armed militia loyal to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF
party during the blood-soaked period preceding the June 27 presidential
"Nothing will ever
bring my wife back, but the perpetrators of this are still there
roaming the streets," he told IWPR. "Justice must be served
and if [the newly formed] inclusive government fails to deal with
this issue there will never be national healing. How do I work with
people who murdered my wife? They must tell me who sent them to
kill my wife and how they did it. There has to be a way to secure
justice. Our hearts are sore."
In terms of
the agreement signed in September by Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, and
Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway MDC faction, which provided
for a government of national unity, to which the MDC finally
agreed on January 30, also calls for a process of national healing
in Zimbabwe, but does not say what form this should take.
It also omits
to mention whether senior members of ZANU-PF and the military, who
are accused of masterminding the political violence, including the
murder of more than 200 people in the run-up to the June vote, should
(PF) members should face trial
prime minister-designate Tsvangirai, senior members of ZANU-PF should
face trial for political violence, though he does not believe Mugabe
himself should be tried. ZANU-PF, however, and Mutambara's
faction of the MDC believe that any action taken should be aimed
at "achieving national healing rather than punishment and retribution".
Chiroto, one of 45 MDC
councillors in Harare, is unequivocal on the issue - for him
punishment of those who murdered his wife is the only acceptable
"I have problems
forgetting and forgiving the people who killed my wife," he
said. "Justice must one day be meted out to whoever organised
the killing. What do I tell my son when he grows up?"
A hit squad descended
on Chiroto's Hatcliffe home on June 16 last year, the day
after he was elected mayor, firebombing the house and reducing it
to cinder. The attackers then seized 27-year-old Abigail and the
couple's four-year-old son, Ashley, and bundled them into
one of two double-cab trucks with no number plates. Some of the
kidnappers wore military uniforms, said witnesses. Chiroto was not
at home at the time.
On June 18 the dreaded
phone call came - Abigail's body had been discovered
on a farm near Borrowdale - her head crushed, her tongue sliced
off, probably to muffle her screams, and her eyes gouged out.
and reconciliation commission
in Zimbabwe have called on parties to the inclusive government to
establish a truth and reconciliation commission, TRC, similar to
that set up in South Africa to expose apartheid-era crimes, to investigate
the violence that followed the disputed March 29 general election
which was won by the MDC but without a sufficient majority for Tsvangirai
to become president without a run-off vote.
church delegation comprising representatives from the Zimbabwe Council
of Churches, the Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
and the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, ZCA, met Tsvangirai on February
2 and agreed to support the new government, but requested the establishment
of a TRC.
ZCA spokesman Raymond
Motsi told IWPR that there was a need to resolve the divisions and
injustices of the past. However, he said this would only be possible
if there was full disclosure by perpetrators of human rights violations
and other wrongs as well as some form of justice for victims.
"Churches are saying
the truth, justice and reconciliation process should start once
a new inclusive government is in place. That should mark the beginning
of the transitional justice system," Motsi said. "This
process should not be left to the political parties alone. It should
not be elitist and should not be a political decision between ZANU-PF
and the MDC."
A spokesman for the civil
society group the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition believes that "joint
peace rallies should be convened by leaders of all parties to promote
peace and reconciliation. True peace and lasting unity will only
be achieved once past human rights abuses are fully addressed".
The former archbishop
of Cape Town and Nobel peace laureate, Desmond Tutu, who led South
Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and, in the past, has
called for a military invasion of Zimbabwe to topple Mugabe, has
now urged world leaders to back the inclusive government in the
interests of reconstructing the shattered lives of the Zimbabwean
people. He has also appealed for an end to the "totally unacceptable"
"My heart aches
for Zimbabwe. Your countrymen and women have suffered greatly,"
he said. "It is in your power to stop the violence if you act
as one. You have an opportunity now to stand up for peace."
But a defiant Mugabe,
who has denied orchestrating the election-related violence that
killed and injured hundreds and displaced thousands, has demanded
security guarantees for himself and his Joint Operations Command
- a think tank of army generals who reportedly planned and
executed the violence.
Official sources say
secret guarantees of immunity against prosecution were negotiated
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, facilitated by SADC-appointed broker,
former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and include crimes committed
as far back as the 1980s, when thousands of opponents of ZANU-PF
were massacred in Matabeleland.
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