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'Peace and healing can only move us forward'

23 Dec 2018 at 08:31hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's Unity Day, which is celebrated on 22 December every year, lays background to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

After the political conflict which took place in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, where, according to our investigations, people lost their lives, there had to be some peace accord somewhere, and it lays the basis for peace and reconciliation.

That is where the foundations of peace and reconciliation started.

For me, this is the underlying background of peace.

As of the reconciliation part, a lot of people are still hurt by the conflict relating to what is termed by Gukurahundi and, hence, they need that healing.

That healing is very necessary; and for healing to take place, there must be a peace accord that must come and then people reconcile.

Once they have reconciled in whatever form, whether in form of some reparation, maybe they need some apology, as we have indicated.

All this is necessary and very important.

People must then recognise that without peace and healing, we cannot move forward as a nation.

We cannot realise progress, stability and economic development without peace and healing; hence, in 2013, Parliament found it necessary to pass an Act - the National Peace and Reconciliation Act - prescribing what was expected of the nation in order to heal.

There were, and still are, divisions as regards to the healing process.

Some people are now taking advantage of the situation, especially from a political perspective, where reparation is asked for when the other people have not called for it.

Some political parties have also seen this as a way of gaining monetary and political mileage.

Thus, at times it has become a bit difficult for us to visit certain areas without having to be criticised.

There are differences also from some chiefs.

I believe the chiefs, as the general custodians of the people, are prepared to help talk to their subjects on peace.

I believe with such a scenario the healing process will take a bit of time because there are other people who come in with a political agenda.

We have invited some political parties to our meetings and workshops, given them our strategic documents; however, they are still adamant that much must have been done as of yesterday.

They have even come up with a view that since the Motlanthe Commission has made its findings and given recommendations, "why are you not doing the same?"

However, we always tell them that Rome was not built in a day.

We continue to value their input and they are part of our journey.

The journey was started by my predecessor, the late Cyril Ndebele, and they had started by looking at other jurisdiction such as South Africa, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and many other countries that had similar political conflicts.

We then came in with strategic plans where we invited other stakeholders for us to fulfil our mandate to operate throughout the country.

So far, we have followed the route in training and preparing our way, and this was necessary because the Act had not been signed.

In between that era and the time my commissioners were sworn-in, there was a lot of capacity building with the help of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).

We started strategic planning with stakeholders and came to the implementation part of it; we have in some areas completed the peace committees.

We have numbered our interests, we have put in place what we want.

In June, when we met in Bulawayo, we agreed that we should start with the national elections that were held in July.

We preached peace. We travelled the whole of Zimbabwe in what we deemed the Peace Caravan.

We believe these and other measures put in place by Government led to peaceful elections.

Despite these campaigns, violence erupted in Harare and the commission was involved in dialogue with the involved parties such as the police, the military and the political parties.

However, at this point in time, going into the New Year, we will be focusing on disturbances in Matabeleland that happened during the 1980s and we will begin dialoguing with people in the area and, with the help of Government, providing transport.

We have been challenged by people who have said "where you are? the people need healing."

Some people are saying "if Government is determined to resolve this matter, why can't you do it the Motlanthe Commission way? Where you go and have meetings with the people affected."

Hence our meetings with the chiefs, the custodian leaders, who have said they will help us.

We have to talk to the people, it is the people who will give us the answers.

Here is a problem that happened during this period, how do you think we can handle it?

At this point in time, it is not only the people who are resident in Matabeleland who can help us with the way forward and in with our mandate of providing healing.

Even people in the Diaspora have made suggestions; their suggestions will give us a way forward.

After that, we can forward a report to Parliament.

Already, I have received a document from people in the Diaspora. They would like to meet the commission, they have made suggestions, as regards to reparation, and the low-hanging fruits which relate to matters that Government can do to heal the nation.

For instance, those that are without birth certificates, whose parents were killed during Gukurahundi, we are inviting Government if it can declare a moratorium, where the chief can certify relationships between the deceased and those in need of the documents.

I am glad that the Motlanthe Commission spoke about reparation for those losses. This is one area that was discussed when we visited many areas in Matabeleland.

People want birth certificates, jobs and development.

However, politically, there is an acceptance element in these areas that the present Government is doing a lot in order to accommodate the people.

The people testify that there is development in some areas and recognition of people that have played a role in Government are being recognised.

For instance, the late Professor Phenias Makhurane being declared a national hero, although he was buried at his homestead.

What needs to be done now is for the commission to carry on with its mandate so that healing and reconciliation begins.

Resources must be made available for us to carry out this mandate and visit those areas.

Presently, if you attend the meetings of the chiefs, they have taken the decision that they should be involved in the dialogue.

Recently, in Lupane we were challenged to meet the grassroots and we believe we should do that.

However, we cannot do that without the resources.

In addition, the commission should not be confined and limited to the Matabeleland situation only.

As NPRC, we are dealing and seized with different situations and conflicts.

Post elections, we had two officers who gave evidence to the Motlanthe Commission - that is the role we played.

We have also dealt with the Chiadzwa situation, where we were invited, where the people in Chiadzwa believe that they need to benefit from the diamonds. Politically, we have covered other areas in Mashonaland Central, we have also covered areas in Matabeleland South where there is gold and there were machete conflicts.

However, these are not the only areas that have experienced conflict; thus, there is need for the commission to move around the country with this message of peace, reconciliation and healing so that we move forward as a nation.


Retired Justice Selo Nare is the chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. He was speaking to The Sunday Mail reporter Debra Matabvu in the capital last week.

Source - zimpapers
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