‘National healing a GNU afterthought’

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Panelists at an Independent Dialogue meeting in Bulawayo Wednesday accused coalition government partners of dragging their feet on implementing the national reconciliation programme because the programme was a side issue during the negotiations that led to the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in September 2008.

The Independent Dialogue is a series of public meetings organised by NewsDay’s sister weekly paper, The Independent, and invites opinion leaders to discuss topical issues and interact with others.

Human rights lawyer, Kucaca Phulu, said the GPA was all about sharing power and political parties concentrated more on it at the expense of other pertinent issues like healing and reconciliation.

“Article 7 of the GPA was framed in an inadequate manner. It is short and does not give the ministers any power. It is important to note that the article seems to have been hastily negotiated under conditions of power sharing,” he said.

“The issue of transitional justice became a side issue which the leaders had to set aside and move on with more pressing business of power sharing.”

The topic under discussion yesterday was Transitional Justice: How Do We Resolve The Atrocities Of The Past.

The panelists included Phulu, MDC national organising secretary Qhubani Moyo, Zapu legal secretary Stephen Nkiwane, and co-minister in the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu. Mzila-Ndlovu admitted that MDC parties had to make concessions for the Article 7 to be included in the GPA.

“I was in the margins of the negotiations then and had problems with it. The two formations of the MDC made concessions around the issues in Article 7. The issue was a talks breaker just like the land issue was a talks breaker at the Lancaster House conference negotiations,” he said.

“The framework is faulty in the sense that it does not give us power to achieve the sort of justice that we envisage.”

Mzila-Ndlovu said during the negotiations Zanu PF insisted that the reconciliation process should be backdated to cover the pre-colonial Ndebele-Shona conflicts.

“Zanu PF insisted and to date, they are still saying that we have to go back to the early 19th century, when the Ndebele came to Zimbabwe. I am not sure if all Ndebele came from South Africa. We have made a concession as an organ and have started a history project where we have enlisted the services of academics,” he said.Zapu legal advisor Nkiwane questioned the rationale of going back so far in history when the people who lived then were all dead.

“Those who colonised this country in 1890 are all dead. My grandfather who fought as part of the Insukamini regiment is dead. I cannot go to Mxoxanyoni (village) and dig the bones of my father to apologise to the bones of the whites he killed,” he said.