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  • Talks, dialogue, negotiations and GNU - Post June 2008 "elections" - Index of articles

  • Peace watch 9/2008
    September 25, 2008


    Veritas is re-launching Peace Watch at a significant time in Zimbabwe’s history, with the signing of the Power-Sharing Agreement promising a political settlement between conflicting political parties. The work of rebuilding our country to ensure lasting peace is the task ahead of us and must start now with all Zimbabweans playing a part instead of leaving it to the political parties who, in spite of the “Agreement” , are locked in further negotiations. To quote Eisenhower: “I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think the people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

    Power-sharing agreement

    On the 15th September 2008 a Power-Sharing Agreement Between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Formations, On Resolving the Challenges Facing Zimbabwe, was signed.

    There is still an air of uncertainty on how it will work. There have been conflicting opinions and media reports on how and when a new government will be formed. There are delays in resolving these issues, and the provisions of the Agreement will not be legally binding until they have been translated into Constitutional amendments or changes in existing legislation. It is unfortunate that the confusion over establishing a new government has overshadowed the Agreement’s other objectives of putting an end to the political violence and restoring the country to a normal footing.
    While politicians are still negotiating and lawyers still drafting, there are positive aspects of the Agreement that can be used as tools for peace- building right now. What is important is the context of the Agreement, in whose spirit and principles any political compromises should be reached and any new legislation prepared.

    In Zimbabwe law the Preamble to an Act sets out the objectives and background, but more importantly if there is any doubt on how the individual clauses of the law are interpreted, the Preamble is used to resolve any ambiguity. In Constitutions of most countries, the values set out in the Preamble colour the whole document. The same pertains in international conventions – the preambles are the framework in which they are interpreted.

    We need to hold politicians to the intentions set out in the Preamble to the Agreement: to build a democratic and just, inclusive society free of fear, violence, patronage, corruption and to ensure a better life for all Zimbabweans.
    The Preamble to the Agreement refers to:

    • “a shared determination to uphold, defend and sustain … national unity… a nation where all citizens respect and, therefore, enjoy equal protection of the law and have equal opportunity to compete and prosper in all spheres of life.”
    • “putting an end to the polarisation, divisions, conflict and intolerance that has characterised Zimbabwean politics and society in recent times.”
    • “our shared commitment to re-orient our attitudes towards respect for the Constitution and all national laws, the rule of law, observance of Zimbabwe's national institutions, symbols and national events.”
    • “the rights of all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation to benefit from and participate in all national programmes and events freely without let or hindrance.”
    • “accepting and acknowledging that the values of justice, fairness, openness, tolerance, equality, non-discrimination and respect of all persons without regard to race, class, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, political opinion, place of origin or birth are the bedrock of our democracy and good governance.”
    • “a society free of violence, fear, intimidation, hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality.”
    • “the historical obligation and need to reach a solution that will allow us to put Zimbabwe first and give the people a genuine chance of rebuilding and reconstructing their livelihoods.”

    Politicians must be held to these principles, values and obligations

    If every organisation could print out at least the Preamble, which is clear and unambiguous, and distribute it widely it might help mobilise people to insist that those wielding power honour the spirit of the agreement. The message contained in the Preamble does not seem to have reached all Zimbabweans – in particular, security forces, party youth and youth militias. This is evidenced by reports of continuing state or inter-party violence.

    Continuing violence and intimidation

    Students: In Bindura, police officers invaded Bindura University campus, "armed to the teeth", and arrested 10 students protesting for a "conducive" learning environment. Three students have accused police of beating them while in custody.

    Teachers: The president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe was arrested in Masvingo on Thursday.

    Returning homeowners: Some 61 families attempting to reclaim their homes, from which they were expelled in the June election-related violence, met with resistance although accompanied by a court officer and the Mbare MP. While the dispute was being heard at Matapi police station, witnesses said two truckloads of ZANU-PF militia invaded the police station singing songs denouncing the MDC and beating party members while the police looked on passively.

    People celebrating the power-sharing deal: Police arrested around 25 MDC supporters in Buhera for celebrating the signing of the power-sharing deal last Monday.

    A villager in Zaka had his home burnt down by ZANU PF supporters on Saturday evening. A report has been made to the police but no arrests have been made.

    A man wearing an MDC T-shirt in a Mabvuku shopping centre was assaulted by more than 10 ZANU PF supporters
    Farmers: there have been fresh farm invasions in Manicaland, with at least 4 farms in the Vumba area being taken over. Another 2 farms in Old Mutare have also been invaded.

    Man shot at and wounded: MDC said that suspected ZANU-PF militia in the Buhera South constituency on Sunday shot and wounded a MDC activist in the leg.

    A street vendor wearing an MDC T-shirt ended up in hospital. He said of his assailants "They told me that they were going to continue attacking MDC supporters until Robert Mugabe tells them to stop.”

    International Day of Peace: 21st September

    Extract from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s message

    “This year, the International Day of Peace takes on special meaning. This is the year we also mark the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We know that human rights are essential to peace.…There is so much to unite around on this International Day of Peace…I call on world leaders and peoples around the world to join forces against conflict, poverty and hunger, and for all human rights for all. Together, let us send a powerful signal for peace that will be read, heard and felt around the world.”

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