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Report on the workshop held in Mutare
Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR)
June 15, 2009

Delegates at the ROHR Zimbabwe workshop held at Mutare museum conference room - 10 June 2009

On Wednesday 10 June 2009 ROHR Zimbabwe held a leadership development workshop in Mutare. Delegates were drawn from the eight districts of Manicaland.

This year, ROHR Zimbabwe has since done 4 workshops in Mashonaland central, Matebeleland, and Midlands and Manicaland. The workshop are an opportunity for the organizations to strengthen its structures of human rights leaders within the communities who should influence local initiatives for the effective advocacy and defense for people's rights and freedoms.

The platforms are also, and more importantly, used as an opportunity for the organization to consult on the people on current national issues and also to capture their opinions and views.

The meeting which was facilitated by ROHR National Chairman, also drew participation from colleagues in other organizations such as Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), National Constitutional Assembly, Mutare residents associations and supporters of the three political parties (ZANU PF, MDC - T and MDC - M)

What the people said:

On Constitution (GPA Article VI)

  • The constitution is a social contract between the leaders and the led. The led tell the leaders that we do not all desire to rule can you do it on our behalf but do it well. Therefore the constitution is an opportunity for the led to decide exactly how the leaders should lead the people.
  • The process of making the Zimbabwe constitution will also determine the quality and content of the constitution. The content of the new constitution should reflect the aspirations of the people and more importantly rescue Zimbabwe from the paradigm that brought it down to its knees in the past decade.
  • People said the constitution-making phase must not be used as misdirection by politicians who might see it as an opportunity to shift people's attention from the politically motivated crimes done after the 29 March elections.

On Promotion of Equality, National healing, Cohesion and Unity (GPA article VII)

The people said they learnt of the Inclusive Government's intention to persuade people to forgive each and forget the effects of the 2008 political violence as a prerequisite for national unity and development.

However, some participants were vowing to revenge what happened to them none the less.

Some people said that it would be difficult for people to forget while known perpetrators were still walking scot free with their lives. An example was given of Joseph Chinotimba the vice chairman of a war veterans association, who they alleged to have killed many people in Buhera where he contested as an MP candidate and lost. They allege that Chinotimba tied the dead bodies to the trailer of his truck in public display, threatening people with the same fate if they refused to support ZANU PF.

The MDC was warned not to rush to the media and the communities with forgive and forget message because the people still do not trust ZANU PF. they see ZANU PF turning back and reactivating its crack down on the people. Will MDC be able to face the same people telling them that they lied?

Here are some of the highlights of what people said on the issue of National healing and reconciliation:

  • This is not the right time to call for national healing and reconciliation because the violence is still happening within communities.
  • There is no guarantee that politicians have reformed and people live in constant fear that the violence campaign can easily begin since the ZANU PF's infrastructure of violence is still intact. Commanders of the army, who were known as ward coordinators are still in the camps that were used to unleash terror in the communities in 2008.
  • People feel that Article VII of the GPA conveniently avoided the use of the word Justice. There should be justice and if possible compensation before the Government starts talking about National unity.
  • Women in the conference pointed out that there is not money that will be able to compensate the damage (psychological and physical) done to rape victims.

Delegates at the workshop spoke hard against the government led national healing and reconciliation process which they said was a clear sign of lack of proper commitment to heal the nation and move forward. It was clearly spelt out that the nation is not ripe for national healing; many spoke against the government's involvement in the process saying that this could negatively affect people's participation. Participants said that a credible process can only be led by independent persons free of government's interference like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

People present also encouraged the government and civil society to find common ground and work together in the constitutional reform process which they said was the only missing link for free and fair elections. Most of the delegates said that a people driven constitution comes from a people driven process. The government cannot decide how it shall govern the people since it is only the duty of citizens to define how they shall be governed by writing a constitution for themselves.

The workshop attendants reiterated the need for peace alleging that violence was still widespread in rural areas. Recent cases of political violence were reported where purported MDC supporters had their houses burnt down in Chipinge and Nyanga in May 2009.

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