Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Truth, justice, reconciliation and national healing - Index of articles
struggles to find healing formula
Caiphas Chimhete, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
July 10, 2011
The Organ on
National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) is still
to develop a programme for psycho-social support and trauma counselling
for victims of political violence, two years after it was set up.
The revelation comes at a time when civic groups are reporting an
upsurge in cases of intimidation and violence, which they blame
on the widening rifts between MDC-T and Zanu PF.
Last week the
organ, a creation of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA), ran adverts in the media seeking
to recruit a consultant to develop a programme to promote healing,
reconciliation and integration of victims of conflict.
"In order to lay
a stable foundation for sustainable reconciliation, peace building,
reconstruction and development, ONHRI wishes to develop a framework
to provide support to citizens to recover and rebuild themselves,
their families, their communities in their psychological, mental
health well being, spiritual as well as in physical terms,"
read the advert in part.
Activists last week said
the organ had been hijacked by "politicians who want to buy
Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of 30 civic organisations,
in its report for May and June expressed alarm over widespread harassment
of MDC-T supporters by Zanu PF activists in the country.
At times, it said, MDC-T
supporters were force-marched to Zanu PF meetings.
"In light of these
observations, ZESN encourages political parties to seriously consider
the spirit and letter of the GPA to promote national healing and
reconciliation and not further divide people along political lines,"
To fill the void created
by the organ's inaction, charity organisations are trying
to fill the void.
A local counselling
unit last week said it was giving psychological support to an average
of 200 victims every month since
the 2008 elections. Some victims still come with injuries they
sustained around that time, said a senior official with the unit.
"There is slightly
an increase in people coming for counselling but on average we record
200 cases a month," said the official.
She said the majority
of victims came from political hotspots such as Chaona in Chiweshe
in Mashonaland central province, Mutoko and Mudzi in Mashonaland
violence victims assisted
The Zimbabwe Christian
Alliance (ZCA) says it has assisted over 5 550 victims in the past
the ZCA coordinator attributed the huge number to the fact that
Zimbabwe never promoted healing since the pre-independence era,
Gukurahundi atrocities and the latest election violence.
The churches are running community healing dialogue meetings and
"healing of the memory" where victims share their experiences
with each other. "We refer to the healing of the memory programme
as 'positive vomiting' because you find out that people
are relieved when they speak about the nasty things that happened
to them," Sibanda said.
Sibanda blasted the organ
for its "very slow pace" while victims continued to
suffer in silence.
He called on government
to enact an Act of Parliament that would put in place a framework
for national healing that would allow free participation of civic
Sibanda said: "Most
of our activities are stopped by police due to the sensitive nature
of the subject".
Thousands more need urgent
the national director of Heal
Zimbabwe Trust said thousands of people were traumatised and
needed support urgently.
"They are failing
to cope, some lost breadwinners and children witnessed their parents
being beaten to death," he said. "Communities are traumatised
The trust has assisted
105 families since last June by providing counselling services.
Mahiya believes the organ's
operations were hamstrung by political parties that saw violence
as the only way to win an election.
The organ is represented
by Vice-President John Nkomo (Zanu PF), the co-Ministers of State
in the Organ for National Healing, Integration and Reconciliation
Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC-N) and Sekai Holland (MDC-T).
Holland conceded that
the organ's work was behind schedule but said they were working
on a "water-tight policy document" that forbids violence
and hate language.
This document will be
presented to an all stakeholders' conference in September.
need to be rushed because we need people to understand what we want
to achieve," she said.
"Our job is not
rushing where there is violence but to sensitise Zimbabweans about
the importance of peace and reconciliation."
But Sibanda said the
organ either had no capacity or was unwilling to assist the victims.
Christian Alliance has
already covered Matabeleland, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland
and parts of Mashonaland provinces.
An estimated 20 000 people
died in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s, when President Robert
Mugabe sent the North-Korean trained Fifth-Brigade ostensibly to
track down dissidents in the two provinces.
that at least 200 of its activists were murdered
during the 2008 elections.
Just like the Gukurahundi
massacres, the MDC-T points a finger at Zanu PF and state security
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.