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ZEF Transitional Justice Workshop exposes weaknesses in nation healing programme
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF)
July 26, 2011

A workshop held this weekend by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) in Botswana has exposed some of the weakness underlying Zimbabwe's National Healing Programme. The workshop, which was one among many aimed at ensuring Diaspora participation in national issues, and in particular to interrogate issues of national healing, was held on Saturday the 23rd of July in Gaborone, Botswana. It drew 35 participants from many organizations and professionals such as teachers, musicians and survivors of torture that are based in Botswana. Support groups included People to People Coalition of Zimbabwe, Solidarity Peace Trust, Zimbabwe Teachers in Botswana Association and Global Zimbabwe Forum.

Participants noted that although the Zimbabwean Diaspora now comprises about a quarter of Zimbabwe's population, they are in most instances marginalized from national processes, thus making it imperative for ZEF to carry out activities, lobbying and advocacy that ensure that Zimbabwe's exiled community engages with the Constitutional reform, elections and national healing. The workshop also observed that the National Healing project as it is currently envisaged in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) promotes a top-bottom approach instead of vice-versa, thus making it difficult for survivors of gross human rights violations to have their opinions heard.

Participants also stressed the importance of institutional reform, especially the security sector, before any credible election is held in Zimbabwe. Attendants also noted that in order to prevent impunity, there was a need for accountability and reparations, among other processes necessary to heal Zimbabwe. Addressing some of the concerns raised at the event, the ZEF Executive Director and human rights lawyer Mr Gabriel Shumba said that any elections that excluded the Diaspora would lack legitimacy and credibility as this segment of the population was one of the biggest in the world. Mr Shumba added that amendments to the Zimbabwe Electoral Act should ensure that the Diaspora is factored in, saying that ZEF will engage with the negotiators and the facilitators to the Global Political Agreement to ensure that this becomes a reality during the referendum and the elections.

The workshops aimed at engaging the Diaspora on the broad issues of national healing and in particular, transitional justice, are held in partnership with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (UK) and are supported by Trust Africa.

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