Heated debate on national healing programme (Part 2)

Synopsis: Concluding segment of the debate between National Healing and Reconciliation co-Minister Sekai Holland, analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and church leader Dr Goodwill Shana. Is there a real intention to create an effective national healing program, or is this a toothless process that has nothing to offer the hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who have suffered so badly from the political violence?

VIOLET GONDA: We bring you, on the programme Hot Seat, the concluding segment of the heated debate between National Healing and Reconciliation co-Minister Sekai Holland, political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and Dr Goodwill Shana, the current chair of the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe . Last week the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation came under fire for leading a toothless ministry that is also spearheaded by some of the perpetrators of the political violence Zimbabwe has seen over the years. Continuing from the last discussion, I first asked Dr Shana if politicians should stay out of the national healing programme.

GOODWILL SHANA: I think the truth is in between. I think its not going to be possible to do national healing without the inclusion, without the participation of politicians, it just wont work. The fact that we are in this transitional period is a creation of the political process. So I think what we need to do is to understand that their role is important in creating the environment in which national healing can take place but their role is to provide this political context and the legislative context – but the actual process of facilitating national healing must be left to people who are not going to raise more questions than answers, who are going to be perceived to be objective, who are not going to subordinate national building principles like national healing to political expedience.

So the problem is that if the politicians are running everything, they are going to subordinate national healing or national building processes like national healing to political expedience. Those things that are inconvenient to them, they are not going to do them. Also I think its an unenviable task that the Organ of National Healing has because it has to deal with the reality of violence and the perpetrators and so on who are part of the inclusive government, but if you go along that path you are going to run into the risk of unravelling the inclusive government which we are trying to heal. So its a dilemma, its a Catch-22 situation. So you have these people who have created this environment

SEKAI HOLLAND : Anyway Violet

SHANA: in which we can produce healing but they are also part of the wounds that were created – so how do you manage that? I think its a very tricky situation. We have suggested a way out of that dilemma ourselves but we dont know whether anyone is listening.

GONDA: And just to reiterate, what is the way out in your view Dr Shana?

SHANA: I think it is to be very clear about the role of the politicians, let them stay in that place and then allow the church, civic society to work out short term, medium term and long term processes. A short term process would be just for instance the process of acknowledgement, the nation needs to acknowledge that certain things were done wrong and then secondly the process of conflict mapping, because its not the same wounds that were inflicted across the country like Rejoice was saying. Various sectors of our community were wounded differently Gukurahundi is not national, neither is Operation Murambatsvina or March 28 or June etc etc. So we have to say which sections of our nation need what healing and then we sit down and say what processes can we work through. The other thing is to engage those victims of the situation and say what is it exactly you want before we even start name calling, what do they want out of the process and then it can help us to heal them where they are hurt.

GONDA: Mai Holland do you agree with what Mr Ngwenyas said that the Organ is not representative and that this is also a problem?

HOLLAND : Violet, I would like to thank Dr Shana for what he has said in the last few minutes because we must acknowledge that the GPA is a political document and that the Organ is one of several institutional frameworks that have been put in place to get the Organ to work. And that in fact here, I am surprised that we are not bringing in JOMIC which is a new institution that has been put in place in the new plan of things in the GPA, that the role of politicians here is to really set the framework that gives political protection and a political framework and for us as the Organ which deals a national framework for peace building and peace for Zimbabwe and that this effort takes every Zimbabwean to do. I want to say that, to Rejoice, the Organ really focuses on that. We are looking at truth, at justice and forgiveness those three pillars, how they are built in the present time when all of us are where we are at the moment. And as I keep saying to people the most important work that the Organ is in the process of doing and takes a long time is to build an enabling environment for people in Zimbabwe to start saying what has happened to them in a truthful manner. Building that environment again takes all Zimbabweans, the church cannot do it alone, civil society cannot do it alone, it has to be done by everybody together. The question of justice

GONDA: But what about his point Mai Holland that he (Ngwenya) said the Organ is not representative in that you have three Ndebeles who are heading this Organ, is it not a problem?

HOLLAND : Actually Violet I do not want us to really go to this really ridiculous Zimbabwean argument about Ndebeles and Shonas. John Nkomo started in ZAPU, he joined ZANU PF. Gibson Sibanda started in ZAPU, he never joined ZANU PF, he came into MDC and broke away into MDC -M. I was a member of the old ZANU under Chitepo and Tongogara, I never joined ZAPU, and I never joined ZANU-PF. I am a founding member of MDC ; I never went to MDC -M. The three of us represent the history of this country and we are doing it very well because we bring into the pot what Zimbabweans have gone through over a long period of history. Thats how I see us; we are senior politicians from the different political parties that are in Zimbabwe at the moment, that are party to the GPA. So I just wanted to say

SHANA: Violet

HOLLAND : I just wanted to go back to saying the legislative framework comes when we have come out with a picture that has come from the people which gives us a national framework for peace in Zimbabwe . We can then get the National Code of Conduct and then we can actually get our legislative agenda. We are very clear about that. Though we are struggling

SHANA: Violet can I

GONDA: Let me bring in Dr Shana.

HOLLAND : we are really making progress.

GONDA: Dr Shana?

SHANA: Yah Violet I think the role of politicians is necessary but is insufficient. I think like I said for me the truth exists in both what is there right now and what Rejoice is talking about. I think the politicians need to create this political context, but underneath that and this is what the churches and civil society has suggested – create a different organism so to say that has inclusivity, that has representatives from all sectors of society. Those are the people who then facilitate and oversee the national healing process, not the politicians. So I think the truth is on both sides; we do need that political legislative context which the politicians bring in but in order to facilitate this healing process, it cant be that structure, or those three people, it has to be another

HOLLAND : Dr Shana we are not involved in doing the programme!

SHANA: Let me finish.

GONDA: Let him finish.

HOLLAND : Im saying we are not involved in what you are saying. I have to clearly say that. We are facilitators

SHANA: no, no, Mai Holland, for the time being you are everything, you are the politicians, you are the Organ -, because we are not getting any feedback, any traction of the ground

HOLLAND: I think Dr Shana what we should agree on the programme now is that urgently, we have NANGO and the Church Coalition to another meeting so that we update one another because it seems to me that a lot of what is happening is not reported to people. We have meetings where

SHANA: No but if you

HOLLAND : where we update one another. It seems to me that your claim that nothing has happened really is quite incorrect because there is a lot that is happening between and among the partners.

SHANA: If someone like me who is the chair of the Churches, doesnt know what is happening, what can we say is happening?


HOLLAND : But what Im saying is can we have an urgent meeting so that we can hear one another and you tell us

SHANA: We have had those meetings.

HOLLAND : what you want to do which you have not been able to do because we are in the way.

SHANA: We have had those meetings and we have told you what we want to do, exactly what Im saying now

HOLLAND : But you are doing that now.

GONDA: OK let me

HOLLAND : You are doing that now!

GONDA: Mr Ngwenya, can you come in please?

REJOICE NGWENYA: The principle I think is very simple. I dont understand why this Organ is trying to reinvent a principle that has already been tested and practised in South Africa . Create a legal environment, create an institution and let the victims come out; they can come out for themselves and say exactly what has happened. Perpetrators also come out for themselves and say what they did, then there are reparations, then theres forgiveness, those who committed crimes then are incarcerated. I think the principle is very simple, I dont think this is rocket science, what this Organ needs to do now. Im glad that Mai Holland is talking about convening a more sensible all stakeholders conference, what they simply need to do is propose a policy framework from which legislation can be institutionalised, then this Organ can then release civil society and independent institutions to run truth and reconciliation. The moral support of politicians is understandable but their role is only as far as instigating a legislative process that can legitimise and give this Organ teeth so that we can proceed from there. Otherwise well keep on talking about it until the cows come home. There are more

HOLLAND : Can I just say


HOLLAND : Can I just say here that the South African model, the Rwanda model, Sierra Leone , Liberia are at our faces to see. Zimbabweans must actually look at how they can produce a Zimbabwe specific programme of national healing and thats what the Organ is trying to get Zimbabweans to understand and many do understand

NGWENYA: Which comprises of Mugabes perception of national healing.

HOLLAND: and many as we speak are coming with their suggestions and at the all stakeholders meeting which is what we have started to work towards and we are still on course. We have also developed that what we need to do is to focus on entry points with every ministry, with every institution in this country to get them to align their programmes with national healing

NGWENYA: Violet, can I ask one question?


HOLLAND : Im just saying things are developing and they are happening

GONDA: OK lets

HOLLAND : we cannot say we want to actually copy what South Africa did because even in South Africa there are big shortcomings with what they did.

NGWENYA: Mai Holland, can I ask you one question?


NGWENYA: Has Robert Mugabe ever confessed to the Gukurahundi massacres? Has he ever personally said I am sorry and I am submitting myself to the public courtyard of scrutiny for the people of Zimbabwe ? Have you ever heard him say that?

HOLLAND : Can I answer you like this and its not a political response, its the reality. The president of Zimbabwe is a signatory to the GPA, so is the Prime Minister, so is the Deputy Prime Minister. They are the principals who established an Organ. We as the three Organ principals deliberate with them on how we can bring, in Zimbabwe an environment, where the things that have happened within our lifetime and which

NGWENYA: You are not going to answer my question Ambuya?

HOLLAND : has made us who we are in our history so that we actually come up with a proper re-healing process.

GONDA: Mai Holland, the question is has Robert Mugabe ever apologised for what happened during the Gukurahundi period? This is what

HOLLAND : Are you aware that he has done that yourself? Why are you asking me that? Its something you can answer yourself and Im trying to tell you that here we do not see that one act as something that actually at this moment will bring peace

GONDA: Why not?

HOLLAND : Because what we think will bring peace is a programme that comes from perpetrators, from victims, from people that have been touched by what has happened. Working together in a conducive environment where we get truth, justice and forgiveness.

GONDA: Dr Shana?

SHANA: Violet, I think the truth of the matter is that national healing is a national imperative but its a political inconvenience and dilemma. Its not possible for us, for people to execute national healing openly, truthfully without almost dismantling the inclusive government because it has perpetrators in there as well.

NGWENYA: Absolutely, Absolutely.

SHANA: So the dilemma is how do you do national healing with people who created the atmosphere for national healing having been part of the violence and the perpetration? Its an unenviable task for the Organ for National Healing. And I dont think it was designed actually to deliver the goods in the lifetime of this transitional process, it cannot because if it does, it has to dismantle the inclusive government because it has perpetrators and victims in there. So I think perhaps we have to reconcile ourselves with the fact that we have to live with this inconvenient reality of national healing being a pending agenda for the next democratically elected government.

GONDA: Right, and before we go, unfortunately Im running out of time, since Ive got Amai Holland on the panel, I wanted to hear it from her because we have been receiving a lot of e-mails from people who read an article in the Herald a few weeks ago, quoting Amai Holland dismissing reports that violence is still taking place in the rural areas and also dismissing reports that ZANU PF has set up bases for purposes of violence. Can you respond to this?

HOLLAND : Yes I can. What I said at that meeting was, the way in which ZANU PF are organising themselves right now is to maintain the culture of fear that has been generated again and inherited over a long period of time. There are 19 ways which I documented on how that is being done. I also said to people if you go round looking for bases as where people are operating from, many of those are not there. I also said that the institutional violence, where you have people going in groups in broad daylight to actually beat people up as happened in 2007 and 2008, if you are looking for that, you will not find it that easily. What is there, are new methods of actually keeping fear alive in peoples minds and I gave examples of those – and I said that unless we define correctly where we need to dismantle the negatives of what is happening, we are going to miss the boat.

GONDA: But is violence still continuing?

HOLLAND: Yes it is. During transition, violence continues but it is not as much as it used to be and what we need to do with the new institutions we are supposed to put in place like JOMIC, like the Organ, it is to find methods that actually deal with the consequences of our history and thats why the job for many seems to be slow and almost invisible because we are the people that are facing what is happening. Yes, violence is occurring during transition but it is not as much as it used to be. What there is which people are not wanting to actually recognise and talk about are the methods to maintain fear, where people act frightened even where they would actually be fighting to free themselves, non violence

SHANA: What has the Organ for National Healing done about the resurgence of violence?

HOLLAND: JOMIC is there to actually do one part of that work. Our work is to

SHANA: Is it functional, is JOMIC functional?

HOLLAND: I cant hear you?

GONDA: You can finish and then I will remind you of the question that he is asking. Can you continue with what you were saying Amai Holland?

HOLLAND: The Organs job is to understand at every stage what is happening in terms of creating an enabling environment where people can start to talk about the painful things that have happened to them, as perpetrators, as victims, because the environment we have now, we have not got to the stage where people are really wanting to talk about those things openly together. Our work is to develop an environment where that can happen.

GONDA: Now you said

HOLLAND: and we are getting there because we are starting to get together in small coalitions where people are starting at very, very elementary levels my cattle was stolen by that person and returning them. We know exactly where this is happening well, where it is not, we also know that there are communities in Zimbabwe where chiefs and traditional leaders refuse to allow violence to take place. We are looking at those to understand how can the patterns of behaviour there be transferred to areas where there is this kind of behaviour, where the fear now prohibits people from opening up so they have an enabling environment where they can start talking about was has happened.

GONDA: Amai Holland, Dr Shanas question was: is JOMIC functioning because you brought in JOMIC

HOLLAND: Yes it is working.

GONDA: Where?

HOLLAND: JOMIC is like the Organ, is a new institution

GONDA: But JOMIC is just like what people are saying about the ORGAN, that its non-existent.

HOLLAND: JOMIC is starting to really be functional and if you look at the meetings theyve had, they are a more coherent group now than they were at the beginning and it is an institution that as we go is going to be quite crucial as a peace monitor.

GONDA: A final word Mr Ngwenya.

NGWENYA: Any overtures or olive branch that smacks of ZANU PF content have absolutely no credibility in the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe. There is no movement towards peace and reconciliation that can be initiated by an institution whether its a GPA or coalition government that has a ZANU PF content. The people of Zimbabwe are never going to accept it until all the perpetrators come out of the open, say out what they did to the people of Zimbabwe, the issues are documented and publicly the victims can then decide whether to forgive or not forgive. As long as ZANU PF is in the formula for reconciliation and justice, nobodys going to accept that as a credible olive branch, it is a poisoned chalice. Those are my concluding remarks.

GONDA: And briefly Amai Holland, your final word?

HOLLAND: Yah my final word Violet is a lot of progress has been made. The main job is to get a Zimbabwe that is GPA compliant in behaviour and that we are going towards truth, justice and forgiveness in our society so Zimbabwe can stand up and walk again and Im very confident that Zimbabweans participating in this process will get there together.

GONDA: Dr Shana, a final word?

SHANA: Yes, national healing is going to be a very stiff challenge for the transitional government to produce, to deliver to the people of Zimbabwe because all the cases that we know of transitional justice have often been delivered by a clear substantive government. The current structure of compromise is going to be extremely anxious to deal with volatile issues of who did what, when and how. S so we may have to be content with pictures of peace rather than the reality of peace for the time being and say what do we do in the short term until we can get to that place where we actually deliver national healing, peace and reconciliation. Without the involvement of grassroots, without involvement of church, civic society, I do not see how the current compromise political situation can actually deal thoroughly, significantly with national healing. I dont see it happening.

HOLLAND: The church Dr Shana is not at peace itself. You need to understand also that the church is part of society and what is required in national healing is every Zimbabwean, whoever they are, whatever they are

SHANA: We know that, we know that

HOLLAND: inside and outside of the country.

SHANA: And part of the reason why the church is not at peace is because of the interference of politicians and we know that and we have suggested, and I think there was a misleading statement that you made that the church is proffering religious principles, no, we are proffering principles that deal with national healing that have been extracted from documentation like

HOLLAND: Hang on I missed that. You said I said what?

SHANA: Excuse me, can I finish?

HOLLAND: No, No, I am saying can you tell me what I said wrong so Im with you?

SHANA: You said that the church, the reason why you cannot proceed is you need to gather information from other religions and spiritual

HOLLAND: No, no, no, no I said faith-based organisations must also make their contribution to national healing, they are an entry point.

SHANA: Yah but

HOLLAND: Everything in Zimbabwe is an entry point.

SHANA: But we were saying the civic society and church forum took care of those two extremities where other people can air their own views which are not necessarily church so we were dealing with universal principles of national healing and peace building

HOLLAND: OK, Im hearing you.

SHANA: You dont have to go and reinvent the wheel on that, the data is there, the principles are there

HOLLAND: We are not reinventing the wheel! We want to understand a Zimbabwe specific national healing programme and process. It comes from the people.

SHANA: And we have given this to you but nothing has happened from

HOLLAND: Every Zimbabwean can give their understanding of how it is to be done, not just the church.

SHANA: It was not just the church. It was civil society and other players.

HOLLAND: You were saying you gave it to us and weve done nothing, Im saying we are still talking to everybody.

SHANA: OK, thats why I think it cannot happen in the substantive life of the transitional government.

GONDA: OK, I guess we have come to the end of this very interesting debate on the national healing programme. We hope that we can invite Minister Sekai Holland again to the programme with Dr Shana

HOLLAND:(laughing) After we have a meeting together to see what he wants us to do which we have not done. So a letter is coming to you tomorrow

SHANA: (laughing) I am willing to have that meeting.

HOLLAND: to which you have to say yes.

GONDA:(laughing) Now, I hope I can be allowed to finish my concluding remarks? And also thank you to political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya for participating on the programme Hot Seat.

ALL : You are welcome Violet.

LINK: http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/hotseat270510.htm

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