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Residents' concept of national healing and reconciliation
May 26, 2010
movement in Zimbabwe has faced numerous challenges in recent years.
The most significant hardship that residents experienced without
justice was the Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005. Thousands of
residents in Harare were left stranded without shelter, without
any source of livelihood after their houses and market places were
demolished under extremely intolerant circumstances. The then government
reasoned that demolishing the houses and markets was to end illegal
activities in the so-called shacks.
Women and children were the hardest hit. This exercise
was carried out in the middle of winter when it is cold. One way
or the other every citizen was affected in several ways by the Murambatsvina
wave. Property and livelihood was lost. Several people were injured.
Armed riot police were out in full force enforcing the directive
of senior officials in the previous government, ably assisted by
the illegal commission then running the affairs of the City of Harare.
The residents of Harare have not forgiven, let alone forgotten the
horrors they experienced at the hands of the State police. HIV/Aids
patients on anti-retro-viral treatment were displaced and wandered
without taking their treatment.
Today the memories of that period invoke hatred
and bitterness among the citizenry who still do not know why this
destruction occurred in the first place, and who initiated it. As
long as there is no information about the real motives of the criminals
who sanctioned that cruelty on innocent people and the identity
of the officials who hatched the exercise, Zimbabweans, particularly
Harare residents, will remain bitter. Citizens were misled into
forming housing cooperatives to build homes in such areas like Kambuzuma
and just outside Tafara. The irony of it all is that then Minister
of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing now the Minister
of Local Government Rural and Urban Development officiated at the
official opening of these housing cooperatives and encouraged people
to build houses before any servicing of the land was undertaken.
Then people paid thousands of dollars into buying building materials.
came up with Operation Garikayi/ Hlalani Kuhle, which was supposed
to provide the victims of urambatsvina with houses at Hopley Farm,
Hatcliffe and Whitecliff. Instead of prioritising the affected citizens,
beneficiaries of this appeasement housing initiative were mostly
drawn from the military, the police, other civil servants, and known
party activists belonging to the former ruling party. These areas
are not freely accessible. Citizens in those areas live in constant
fear and victimisation.
to political diversity:
The period after
the delayed release of the Presidential Election results in the
2008 Harmonised Elections should rank as one of the worst periods
for Zimbabwean citizens in living memory. The country turned into
a war zone. The high-density areas were turned into hot spots for
citizens whose movements were now restricted to their homes. Those
actively involved in opposition politics were haunted out of their
homes and terrorised by youth militia manning bases in council offices
and party offices. Most were tortured and forced to confess to the
'sin' of supporting another party not Zanu PF. Friends
and colleagues across Harare were screened on State-controlled television
denouncing their parties in favour of President Mugabe, in return
for their security and safety.
It should be noted here that Zimbabweans have previously
experienced inter-political violence; in 1990 when the Zimbabwe
Unity Movement (ZUM) contested the presidential and parliamentary
elections, the period preceding the June 2000 Parliamentary Election
when then united Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) contested
elections in Zimbabwe for the first time, and the horrors that were
visited upon the citizens of Matabeleland and the Midlands in a
tribal cleansing, codenamed Gukurahundi in the 1980s leading to
the 1987 Unity Accord.
These memories should provide the national political
leadership with valuable lessons on how to co-exist in peace with
each other in the full realisation and enjoyment of our hard-won
independence. As long as citizens live in constant fear of being
arrested, illegally detained or assaulted for their political beliefs,
the nation will remain unhealed.
A lot happened and many citizens have experiences
that have left them bitter and vulnerable to this day. The Harare
Residents' Trust (HRT) believes that it is pertinent to raise
these issues and reflect before taking any other step.
healing and subsequent reconciliation to take effect in Zimbabwe,
there has to be acceptance of responsibility by whoever took part
in acts that inflicted pain on the citizenry. The past atrocities
against the citizens cannot be forgotten by time but by real action
on the part of the perpetrators. Public confessions by those responsible
in community halls should mark the beginning of a national healing
process. An accurate history of the experiences of people has to
be written and recorded as a learning tool.
past atrocities have to be certain that the culture of impunity
is ended with legal certainty in Zimbabwe. Those who authorised
the perpetration of human rights violations and those who accepted
the orders to inflict pain on other citizens, be brought before
the courts of law to answer to their actions. After the legal prosecutions
have taken place, then the civil route has to be followed to ensure
that those who lost their property and livelihoods receive some
significant compensation from the perpetrators. Money and properties
cannot resurrect the dead. Neither can they restore people's
freedoms and limbs that were broken by hooligans and other political
perverts. But this will significantly reduce the bitterness among
the citizens, and will help mend relations across the political
divide. The objective of this route is to inflict deterrent punishment
on those who deprived other people of their full human rights in
the name of political orders.
as the residents' movement is that there will not be reconciliation
without justice. In order to be reconciled as a nation, there should
be guarantees that the rule of law will be applied, that the judicial
orders and decisions are respected and upheld. The history of impunity
has undermined the citizens' confidence in the judiciary and
the police. This has to be seriously addressed and justice must
be seen to be done.
The conclusion of this important phase in the realisation
of long-term peace in Zimbabwe, will bring with it measurable economic
growth, deepening of governance and the entrenchment of the rule
of law. The Harare Residents' Trust believes that once the
citizenry have confidence in the governance of the country, there
are other accruing benefits to be realised, like increased foreign
direct investment, credibility of Zimbabwe as nation is enhanced
and there would endurable peace that transcends partisan interests.
and comments please contact the Harare Residents' Trust (HRT)
on +263 912 869 294, +263 733 296 806 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org/
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