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  • Truth, justice, reconciliation and national healing - Index of articles


  • Tenth anniversary of the murder of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika
    Sanderson N. Makombe
    April 10, 2010

    It is ten years today, 15 April 2010, since my MDC colleagues Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika were torched alive and burnt to death by a ZANU PF mob led by Joseph Mwale just outside Murambinda Growth point in Buhera in 2000.The perpetrators of this ignomorous callous act remain free with Joseph Mwale still drawing a wage officially as a government employee. Such is the classical impunity enjoyed by ZANU PF agents, which has become its legacy.

    Zimbabwe celebrates 30 years of postcolonial rule on 18 April, three days from today. The struggle for independence was driven by the desire for self government achieved through democratic elections among other motives. Sadly the current political impasse strikes through the heart of this cherished goal of independence, the 'free one man one vote- concept. Precisely the principle Tichaona Chiminya and Talent were excising when they were brutally murdered in cold blood by those barbaric cretins on that fateful day. On 21 April 2010, it is reported PM Tsvangirai is to lead a delegation of the GNU to Brussels to plead for the easing of travel sanctions and other restrictive measures imposed on ZANU PF individuals at the height of their orgies of violence in February 2002 by the EU. The PM himself is a prominent victim, having been brutally assaulted in police custody last year together with Lovemore Madhuku of the NCA. Surely the irony will not be lost here: the victim will be pleading for the offender.

    There are two questions the PM will find very difficult to answer during his mission to Brussels. What has changed? And what concrete steps have been put in place to make sure there will not be a repeat of that orgy of violence? The travel sanctions were imposed for gross human rights abuses sanctioned by the state and ZANU PF-s drive to thwart democratic space for the opposition and civic society. European jurisprudence on human rights is very strict and adhering that even in the face of terrorism, the European Court of Human Rights has consistently found much in favour of civil liberties against national securities. Human rights is a cherished doctrine within the EU and not much favour, am afraid, will be dangled to those who willfully deprive others their suffrage and basic rights.

    That ZANU PF is not a serious partner in national healing and reconciliation is aptly demonstrated by their MP-s walking out of a parliamentary session when a motion on political violence was being debated .The MDC went on to read the roll of honour of more than 278 MDC supporters killed by ZANU PF and its affiliated agents. No effort has been made to bring the perpetrators to justice despite there being abundant evidence. The Changing Times has started serialising all documented human rights violations perpetrated by ZANU PF towards the aborted presidential rerun. What is strikingly shocking is the manner in which sitting ZANU PF MPs and other top officials sanctioned and led in the attacks on opposition members. Notably Chinotimba is accused of rape, Biggie Matiza of murder among others.

    Allegations of torture surface on regular basis and recently the PM officially launched Cries form Goromonzi . . . Inside Zimbabwe Torture Chambers, a report prepared by Crisis, which catalogued many incidents of abductions and torture. There is no evidence that political victimisation is lessening. Contrary, waves of violence are sweeping across the country, notably in Murazabani. Guruve, Zaka, Chiredzi, Bikita and in farm lands in Rusape. The old state machinery is still in the game, detaining opposition MPs and Councillors on flimsy charges, abduction and harassment of student leaders and human rights lawyers and selective application of law Draconian laws like POSA and AIPPA haven-t been repealed. There is no evidence to suppose that the same level of violence and intimidation experienced before will not resurface during the next elections, with or without a new constitution in place.

    The reforms envisaged in the GNU with regard to human rights violations and creating a conducive environment for democratic expression have been minimum. The only notable thing has been the swearing in of the Human Rights Commission. However we all know without tacit approval from the security forces, the commission will remain just good on paper. The same security forces remain heavily skewed in favour of ZANU PF in their modus operandi. The institutions of terror remain intact with militia mobs still terrorising people in rural areas.

    The National Organ on Reconciliation aptly displays the lack of seriousness in redressing past atrocities. The leaders of the Organ continue holding meaningless talk show type meetings without any substance. The fact that they chose to operate without any enabling act of parliament highlights the absurdity of their assumptions. They don-t have a specific mandate to investigate past atrocities, to hear and record testimonies, to compel victims and offenders to own up, neither do they have a package of restitution and compensation as required by international law. As noted by the PM, -there can be no national healing without forgiveness and no forgiveness without truth and justice as both national healing and forgiveness do not exist in a vacuum-. The efforts of the National Organ will achieve neither reconciliation nor justice.

    Therefore why should such unrepentant anarchists be allowed to come and mix with the developed west and enjoy its trappings? Do their actions abode with behaviour expected of the civilised world? Hell No. The EU is right in denying these sycophants opportunities to come and squander their ill-gotten health in their cities. As a matter of fact, travel restrictions are not peculiar to ZANU PF persons only, even nationals of other developed nations are restricted if they have offended serious laws. Registerd sex offenders cannot travel out of the UK without express permission. Anyone convicted of drugs offence will find it difficult to enter the USA, Japan and most EU countries. Mike Tyson was denied visa to Japan because he saved time in jail for rape. Recently rapper Snoopy Doggy was refused permission to enter the UK because of drugs issues. Singer Amy Winehouse was denied visa to enter USA also because of drugs abuse. Now these are lesser crimes compared to those committed by ZANU PF. What more then about known murderers, rapists and arsonists?

    On the other hand if the EU eases the restrictions, it could be an opportunity also for human rights defenders to try to bring known perpetrators to book using universal jurisdiction principles. The Pinochet case is a good example. The House of Lords ruled in Pinochet that, 'it is implicit in the international crime of torture that diplomatic immunity as former head of state doctrine do not apply-. Government officials accused of torture and other international crimes will find that easing of travelling sanctions is not to their advantage. Attempts were also made to have Detective Inspector Henry Dohwa arrested for torture when he was posted to Kosovo by the United Nations.

    Probably its high time that Zimbabwe should make political parties and all registered associations vicariously liable for the actions of their supporters. This concept is used to regulate fans behaviour in the world of football and it works very well. The party will be fined and ordered to compensate victims of political violence perpetrated by their supporters. What the scheme requires is an impartial police force and a multi disciplinary agency that will be tasked to investigate and monitor all politically related violence related to both human and property. An Ad Hoc bench will also be created presided by a High Court ranked judge to preside over such crimes without delay and set down the compensation and restitution. The offender will still be tried for their criminal conduct. If the party fails to pay, their properties will be attached.

    I do hope the PM has not been backed into a corner by the prominent South African Gigolo masquarandering as an intermediator yet singing from ZANU PF-s hymn book. The responsibility to persuade the EU lies with ZANU PF itself by conforming to provisions of the GNU and reforming to a civilised political party not a mafia styled rebellious organisation.

    'Good friends we had and good friends we lost, along the way- sang Bob Marley. The likes of Tonderai Ndira, Godfrey Kauzani, Beta Chorurama, Trymore Midzi, Edson Mukwasi and many more. RIP

    The writer is former MDC National Youth Co-ordinator and can be contacted at smakombe@btinternet.com

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