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'Put transitional justice mechanisms in place’

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Zimbabwe should have systematic transitional justice mechanisms to heal the wounds of those affected by the Gukurahundi massacres and political violence
that punctuated the June 2008 Presidential election run-off to date.

Magwegwe MP Felix Magalela Sibanda made the remarks in Parliament on Thursday while debating a motion on national healing, cohesion and unity in respect of victims of pre and post-independence political conflicts.

The motion had been moved by Hurungwe West MP, Tall Severino Chambati.

The motion was aimed at ensuring the three political parties in the inclusive government complied with Article 7.1 (c), and that a Select Parliamentary Committee be appointed to work with experts in crafting and defining measures and policies dealing with issues of transitional justice and national healing.

“As long as we do not say the truth about these things, genocide and atrocities will continue for a long time and counter accusations in this House by MPs from different political parties will make the spirits of those dead people never to go to rest,” said Sibanda.

“Some of the forms of transitional justice that we can use are prosecution by sanctioning those who violate the law with impunity and that the human rights abusers must be made to pay for their actions.”

Sibanda said there were various methods that could be used like arraigning the perpetrators of violence before the International Criminal Court.

“Reparations and damages should be paid to those victims. In Tsholotsho, there are mass graves and reparations to compensate those victims can be made through, for example, supporting the area with developmental programmes like building schools, dams, clinics, and so on. There should also be compensation whereby the children of those people murdered due to political violence are financially assisted by government and that those siblings should get death certificates for their late parents,” he said.

He said another method was to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to expose past human rights violations by government and other non-state actors, as well as by what he called “errant soldiers” who had recently been making controversial statements.

Sibanda said the Prescription Act should be revamped as it barred any civilian from suing government when the violations were deemed to have expired.

“As long as that Act exists, what we are doing here is only theory. The first thing is to deal with the Prescription Act that will give people the locus standi to pursue litigation. Memorials can also be used to heal these people whereby names of streets, mountains, or schools can be named after these victims of violence,” he said.

Sibanda said institutional reforms in the military and judiciary were very necessary in Zimbabwe as these institutions contributed to some of the human rights violations.

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