President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have been challenged to apologise for their roles in political violence if they are sincere about engaging in a peace and reconciliation process.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Political violence victims from different parts of the country, including Zaka, Muzarabani, Hurungwe and Tsholotsho, told a Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT)-organised workshop in Harare yesterday that most of the people who terrorised them were known Zanu PF and State actors and should not be allowed to lead the healing process.
“The President’s intervention will not be acceptable. We can’t also send views to the minister because he is appointed by the President. Most of the violence was State-sponsored violence,” one of the victims said.
“The State must acknowledge that it was State-sponsored violence and should pay damages.”
Another victim questioned the role of the reconciliation arm in Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office.
The victims said the stance taken by Mphoko on Gukurahundi also disqualified him from spearheading the reconciliation process.
“Mphoko is refusing to acknowledge Gukurahundi, but he was there. We don’t want these people or any other minister whose hands are dirty,” one of the victims said.
The government is going around the country canvassing views on a peace and reconciliation legislation, but there was scepticism at the workshop that this would go smoothly, as some feared the process would be manipulated by the ruling party.
Others said the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up under the new Constitution, should send its findings to Parliament and not a minister who reports and owes allegiance to Mugabe.
Victims narrated their ordeals at the hands of Zanu PF supporters and suspected State security agents.
Some said they were raped during violent election campaigns, while others had their property destroyed.
“My brother was shot nine times as we were walking towards the shops. This was in 1983 during the Gukurahundi era,” Davey Ndlovu said.
Freddy Matonhodze, a political violence victim from Muzarabani, who had his tractor burnt in 2002 and his home destroyed in 2008, said although they welcomed the exercise towards justice, they should be allowed to speak freely.
Lawrence Zanga, who survived violence in Zaka that left several MDC-T supporters dead and others seriously injured, said the law was a noble idea.
“It is regrettable. As citizens and victims, we don’t want him (Mphoko) to have anything to do with that. He has shut out Gukurahundi and we can’t have him.”
HZT director Rashid Mahiya said trust was key in reconciliation processes and the role of the minister compromised the independence of the commission.
The workshop was meant to facilitate the gathering of views to be included in the proposed peace and reconciliation legislation.