Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Healing and Reconciliation Summit on cards

A summit to explore ways of reconciling Zimbabweans divided
by almost a decade of political fighting blamed on President Robert
Mugabe's radical supporters is set for next month, a cabinet minister said last week.

The country was last year plunged into what has been described as the
worst political violence since the end of the Gukurahundi massacres in the
Midlands and Matabeleland after Mugabe lost the first round of the
presidential poll in March.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who garnered more votes during the
first round of the elections, was forced to withdraw from the June 27
run-off poll after Zanu PF militants murdered almost 200 of his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters.

Thousands others were forced to flee their homes in Zanu PF
strongholds as the 85-year-old leader embarked on a vicious fight back.

But since Zanu PF and the MDC formations formed a unity government
last month, there have been moves to promote national reconciliation in
order to rebuild the country.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office, Gorden Moyo said
the cabinet ministers charged with leading the national healing process had
started consultations on the way forward with various stakeholders.

"The Ministers will also hold a summit next month to be attended by
various stakeholders to discuss and prepare a framework for undertaking
national healing and reconciliation.

"The whole process is sensitive and has to be handled with care, that
is why they have to come up with an agreed framework," Moyo said in an

Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda and
Sekai Holland from the Tsvangirai-led MDC are the Ministers of State
responsible for national healing.

"It's part of their mandate to hear the best way forward to lead the
process," Moyo said.

"Once they have a draft framework they will present it to the Council
of Ministers for debate, ratification and approval."

However, Christian Alliance, a grouping of various church
denominations says the church should lead the national healing and
reconciliation process as Zanu PF and the MDC formations lack the moral high
ground to lead the process.

"The process should be led by the church because it is not a political
process," said Christian Alliance national director, Useni Sibanda.

"Political parties are the originators of this conflict and lack the
morality to undertake national healing and reconciliation. They also need to
be reconciled by the church."

He said examples should be drawn from countries such as South Africa
and Rwanda, where independent bodies led the process of achieving
reconciliation and ensuring transitional justice.

Activists have called on the joint transitional government to
implement a clear programme of action on past human rights abuses to avoid a
repeat of rights violations in future.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released on Thursday said
perpetrators of human rights violations should be prosecuted as part of
reforms to avoid a repeat of the abuses.

Since 2000 Mugabe's old administration attracted international censure
for its poor human rights record which has resulted in sanctions for the
ageing leader's inner circle.


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