Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) ex-combatants have taken the national healing and reconciliation programme into their hands amid fears the exercise could fail if left in the “wrong hands”.
The move by the Zipra veterans comes at a time the government is struggling and failing to implement any visible programmes on national healing and reconciliation.
Zipra ex-fighters say a proposed blanket national healing process by the government would not achieve intended results as communities experienced different forms of violence, a situation necessitating communal healing programmes.
“Violence subsists in various forms,” said Retired Colonel Lazarus Ray Ncube, the chairman of the Zipra veterans’ body.
“For example, what happened in Lupane is quite different from what happened in Matopo. It is not realistic to have a blanket prescription to national healing when communities witnessed different kinds of violence.
“Each community needs its own prescription on how to deal with sensitive issues in their communities and this is what informs Zipra veterans’ communal healing programmes.”
The Zipra healing programme began in Mangwe, Matabeleland South, last month and is expected to move to the Midlands province and Nkayi next week.
President Robert Mugabe recently called for a blanket amnesty for all perpetrators of past violence, saying arresting culprits would derail efforts of the inclusive government to embark on a national healing and reconciliation process.
Victims of political violence, civic groups and the two MDC parties, however, say that justice was a prerequisite to a successful national healing process for a country that has witnessed severe violence during election campaigns.
Ncube said the ongoing constitution-making process and subsequent elections would not succeed unless there were preceded by communal healing programmes.
“Those processes (elections and constitution-making) cannot happen successfully when there is no peace in our communities. Communities need to speak to themselves and agree on how to stop violence taking place in their areas.
“Only communities can do that because they understand themselves . . . any blanket prescription will never work.
“Our programmes have since got the backing of the Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa which recently organised a workshop for us in South Africa to equip us on strategies to use in our programmes,” he added in an interview.