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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Truth, justice, reconciliation and national healing - Index of articles
of ZimRights documentary: Article VII Voices for Healing
October 13, 2010
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beat me up with knobkerries and metal rods. They struck my lip
with a knobkerrie as I turned over because of its unbearable pain
on my buttocks, so that when I jerked and turned over that's
when it hit my lip. They went on to burn down my home. Everything
was reduced to ashes. My wife and children were not home when
I returned. As I survived this ordeal I don't know where
my family went to and if they are alive."
for Healing opens with harrowing accounts of the beatings, rapes
and tortures that took place in Zimbabwe during the March 2008 elections.
In another instance
a tearful woman recounts how her husband died from being beaten,
and her vain attempt to stem his bleeding by taking off her blouse
and placing it on his wounds. Her distress is palpable.
were painful times! Children were forced into evil acts. Murder,
assault and burning properties, all evil acts that anger God happened.
Nothing inhuman in behaviour was left out in 2008," says Chief
With this documentary,
ZimRights examines the question of National Healing in Zimbabwe
after the March
2008 elections. What results is an engaging film that seeks
to explore the origin and redress of political
violence in this country.
Since the 1990s,
Zimbabwe's elections have increasingly been characterised
Peace Project comments:
that whenever elections or referendums approach, we have gross human
rights violations, which are politically motivated. Where we even
see people being murdered, people being maimed, women being raped
and people fleeing."
Voices for Healing
takes a look at the history of violence in Zimbabwe in interviews
with historian and cultural leader, Pathisa Nyathi; Catholic Parliamentary
Liason Officer, Father Edward Ndete and Pastor Ray Motsi from Grace
The film reveals
that the history of Zimbabwe is characterised by transfers of power,
which manifest themselves through violent conflicts. Political,
and in particular electoral violence, in Zimbabwe is rooted in colonialism
suggests Pathisa Nyathi.
of violence that we have has its genesis in the colonial period.
This is the period when repressive laws were promulgated, where
people just disappeared, they disappeared because they were intransigent.
People resorted to an armed Liberation Struggle. Let's be
clear about an armed struggle, it is by nature violent," says
that culture did not abate, neither did it stop nor was it transformed
even after we got our independence. People have been dying and that
is the modus operandi within Zimbabwe. Therefore in my opinion,
this has become a culture within Zimbabwe," says Ray Motsi.
further asserts that election violence is used chiefly to maintain
economic interests. Father Edward Ndete takes this point further
by adding: "
As long as people want to protect their power, and the illegal way
they have acquired wealth, this violence will continue."
Zimbabwe had won political freedom and the social freedoms that
come with this; those institutions of mass repression and coercion
used by colonial governments remained. Economic power rests with
an elite group of the ruling party, and it is in their interest
to maintain the political power that enables this. There is no question
that politically motivated violence informs and influences voting
patterns in favour of those responsible for the violence.
commercial politics now. They campaign, people die; they win and
are given cars, twin cabs. Next time new candidates win, they get
cars . . . it's a vicious cycle." - Chief Mutekedza
for political violence rests with a few, it should not be forgotten
that Zimbabwe's socio-political crisis consists of a complex
mosaic of contributing factors. These include devastating droughts
in the 1990s and early 2000s; increasing alarming levels of unemployment;
the Gukurahundi Massacres of the 1980s and the Constitutional Crisis
of 2000. It may be argued that Zimbabwe's liberators made
the biggest contribution to this crisis. Independent Zimbabwe had
changed from a racist white oppression and colonialism, to a black
oppression that was witnessed in the corridors of power. Fighting
that black oppression would then undermine the authority and power
of those who had brought about independence. Furthermore, the government
at independence failed to stem the crisis by not examining the causes
of violence while reducing national healing and reconciliation to
Voices for Healing
goes on to ask how healing can be brought to the victims of political
violence and the nation as a whole. Retributive justice is posed
as a potential solution. ZimRights uses file footage of then Prime
Minister Robert Mugabe talking about the need for retributive justice
.and I think what people would want to know is whether those who
have committed genocide and massacres will become our friends tomorrow?
Our answer is those who were architects of these genocides and massacres,
surely must on the basis of moral and legal principles be brought
His sentiments are echoed by ordinary citizens post 2008:
who did should be arrested. Also those who were beating up people
should be arrested and tried in court. Then we will know that the
government has power and there is rule of Law. They must go to prison.
We will talk forgiveness with them when they are coming from prison."
impediment to national healing is that the architects of the violence
are in government, and national healing is a government led process.
In the film,
Father Ndete suggests that retributive justice will not work because:
are some who are viewed as having perpetrated more violence than
others. So the moment you start talking about retributive justice,
you anger a certain group of people, and this healing will not move."
For the people,
national healing cannot proceed without dealing with the perpetrator.
However, there is a widely held fear that because these are powerful
and wealthy people, it is easy for them to manipulate or bribe unemployed
youths to perpetrate further acts of violence, reversing any progress
the film examines is that of compensation. Is it enough to apologise
and ask for forgiveness? Or should the victims be given compensation
for their suffering? The documentary even asks at what point in
Zimbabwe's history should national healing start? Those affected
by the Gukurahundi massacres surely cannot be left out of the process.
Voices for Healing
also shows how the current process of national healing has failed
those it is supposed to help.
understand the National Healing Process. In fact we don't
want it. They must consult us first. Not just for them to wake up
and say - we are sending people to you. Instructing us to forgive
each other. Forgive who?"
shows that any lasting solution has to come from Zimbabweans themselves.
the national healing process, the solution should be prescribed
by the grassroots. By grassroots, I mean the people on the ground.
Not for people from Harare or Head Office to come and tell us how
to do the process. We are the ones who hurt each other; we are the
ones who are hurt. We should be telling them how to do the process.
So I may be able to forgive my neighbour."
In its conclusion
the film illustrates the hope that has been brought about by the
signing of the Global
that everything will recover, that is if National Healing is seriously
implemented and fulfilled."
hope is well founded or not remains to be seen.
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