BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
The National Transitional Justice Working Group in Zimbabwe (NTJWG) will on Tuesday host its first transitional justice annual lecture to discuss the impact of hate speech on transitional justice at a time the country is pursuing various strategies to address past injustices.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is under pressure to resolve complications arising from episodes such as the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands, election violence and Operation Murambatsvina.
Siphosami Malunga, the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa), will deliver the NTJWG’s highly anticipated lecture from between 10:00am and 11:30am.
Yassin Nhara, who is part of the NTJWG’s secretariat, will host the lecture and Thobekile Matimbe, a community manager at Paradigm Initiative, a civic organisation which promotes digital rights and inclusion in Africa, will moderate the plenary session of the lecture.
This year’s lecture will be held under the theme, “Hate speech and its impact on transitional justice”.
NJTWG vice-chairperson Paul Themba Nyathi said the theme was carefully selected because to achieve reconciliation in any environment full of past hurt and pain, there was a need to use constructive language.
“Hate language will worsen feelings of the hurt,” Nyathi said.
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“Words have the capacity to instigate people into violence and at the same time, words can inspire people to unite forgive and forget.
“Hate speech is responsible for all the disasters we have experienced in the world.
“In Rwanda, it took one person to describe another tribe as cockroaches and one million people were dead in 100 days.
“Gukurahundi took someone to use uncomplimentary language to instigate violence and cause the murder of 20 000 people.
“Things do not just happen, they take some careless language and in countries with ethnical diversity, use of language should be well thought out.”
At the height of Gukurahundi, politicians such as the late Robert Mugabe and Mnangagwa were accused of using hate language to fuel the conflict.
Mugabe referred to then Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo as a snake. Zapu officials and their supporters were the targets of the army killings.
Mnangagwa, who was Security minister at the time, referred to “dissidents” as cockroaches that needed a deadly pesticide to be exterminated.
Malunga is a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer with extensive experience in transitional justice and governance in Africa. He has been the Osisa executive director since 2013.
He holds a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe obtained in 1994 and a Masters in International Law from the University of Oslo, Norway, in 2007.
Malunga began his career with law firms in Zimbabwe before moving to Botswana.
He later joined the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the United Nations’ Transitional Administration in East Timor in 2000 as an advisor to the Transitional Justice minister and later as senior defence trial attorney with the UN Serious Crimes Panel.
From 2003 to 2006, he worked with the UN in Afghanistan to rebuild the justice sector and later moved to the United Nations Development Programme’s Governance Centre in Oslo where he led the United Nations Development Programme’s efforts to integrate conflict prevention in demographic governance policy and programming.
He was the senior governance advisor and regional programme manager for the Regional Bureau for Africa.
He later moved to Johannesburg to work under the United Nations Development Programme’s East and Southern Africa office until 2011 when he took up his current position.
To attend the lecture, register by visiting https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAqcOmrrT8vHtXhJld4Sk5KLz6362Do_d1s