Amai Hollands ministry has come under fire from civil society groups who claim it does nothing. For example the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says the Organ does not exist in the peoples eyes. I started by asking Minister Holland for her reaction to such a statement, and asked her to explain what exactly her ministry is mandated to do.
SEKAI HOLLAND: Actually that is a huge exaggeration you are making yourself. The Organ in Article 7: 1C our mandate is very clearly spelt out and in all our meetings, thats how we start our meetings by getting people to understand the whole of Article 7 because that states the intentions of the GPA, the Global Political Agreement. And on 7:1C which is how the formation of the Organ is based, just really says, somebody has torn the page out, it says that the parties will give consideration to the setting up of a mechanism that will advise thats the mandate. That will advise on the issues of national healing, cohesion and unity and it goes on to talk, Im just going from my head, about pre-Independence and post-Independence victims of the conflict then.
Now my understanding of that is that we then talk with the principals among ourselves to see really how we could develop that advisory role. We realise that we could not advise people unless we understood what the people themselves were thinking and how they wanted the whole question of transitionary justice, of bringing peace to Zimbabwe, how that should be done. So we focussed on developing an all-inclusive grassroots based, completely inclusive process where the voice of every Zimbabwean, at home and abroad, must be given airing on how people want to bring peace to Zimbabwe. So when you say we are under attack from all civil society, we have formed partnerships for example with NANGO and the church as organised in Zimbabwe. We have actually formed very good partnerships with the different institutions here in Zimbabwe as they explain to us how they want to build peace here. Weve also formed the partnerships outside the country with different groups in the Diaspora as they develop an understanding that they are part of Zimbabweans, whether they are outside the country or inside the country and that what they need to do to bring peace, they dont have to be here in Zimbabwe, they can actually do a lot when they are outside.
GONDA: So Mai Holland when (interrupted)
HOLLAND: weve formed partnerships with ministries here so that we link them internationally, regionally, locally so that their work of national healing really becomes a mobilising tool for national healing. We are doing all those things in a very focussed way.
GONDA: But Mai Holland if I may
HOLLAND: it has taken 1800 years for Zimbabweans to have this level of violence
GONDA: If I may interrupt you Mai Holland, if I may
HOLLAND: it did not take one year, it did not take one year for people to build peace building tool.
GONDA: Im not understanding where Im exaggerating I gave you an example, I actually spoke to the ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo a couple of weeks ago and he said that the Organ does not exist in the peoples eyes and I also spoke to groups, civic groups like the WOZA, the pressure group who have said that healing is by decree and not by design and that nothing is happening as far as they are concerned in terms of the National Healing programme, so where exactly am I exaggerating?
HOLLAND: OK thank you very much, youve mentioned ZCTU, youve mentioned WOZA, those are two institutions in this country which are doing their own programmes, but when I say NANGO and the Church organisations that are working as a coalition with NANGO with the Organ, we are talking about hundreds of organisations there. And the churches, right now as we speak have a huge national healing programme which they are doing throughout the country and really preparing the ground for people to be involved in national healing.
GONDA: So lets ask
HOLLAND: they are not telling the Organ that the Organ is useless and we are really there to facilitate, not do the work ourselves.
GONDA: So let me ask Dr Shana to come in here and lets find out since he is also a representative of the Christian denominations in Zimbabwe. Dr Shana, is this criticism against the National Healing and Reconciliation Organ justified? Are you happy with the work its doing so far?
GOODWILL SHANA: We certainly are not happy with the work that has been done so far but to say that it does not exist I think would be to ignore what is there. But maybe what is not happening is the pace at which it is operating, the clarity of itself, its proceedings and whats going on that is where we have the biggest problem because indeed we have made every effort to work with the Organ, we have submitted our Paper, our Kariba Paper that we put together as a civic society and the churches, but it was the follow-through thereafter that has been a problem. We dont have, we dont seem to have momentum and traction on the ground to carry through a clearly thought out strategy of engaging the nation and for us that is frustrating, so to the extent that people on the ground are not seeing traction and momentum, it could be correct that as far as some people are concerned it does not exist.
GONDA: And do you have a shared understand of what the Organ is actually supposed to be doing, Dr Shana?
SHANA: I think the position of what the Organ is supposed to be doing has been changing and morphing over a period of time, I think that is part of the challenges we are facing and though as it has always been to seek, to get a clarification as to exactly what we are supposed to do. We always felt it was to provide a facilitative, political and legal facilitation for healing to take place, to allow people to carry on, especially in civil society, to carry on as best as they can do to assist the inclusive government in the healing process. But on many occasions it has appeared as if the Organ is actually going to do the healing itself and so I think its important for us to clarify what role the Organ is going to play in enabling national healing to take place in Zimbabwe. That is quite a challenge, that particular one.
GONDA: Right, and Mr Ngwenya, your thoughts on this? Can you explain what you understand, first of all, of the role of this Ministry?
REJOICE NGWENYA: Well if you study the transitional justice arrangement in South Africa you will then understand why people are saying it doesnt exist, the Zimbabwean version doesnt exist. You know, it is not backed by any legal instrument, its a result of a monumental document of compromise called the inclusive government, the GPA that has no legitimacy, it has no constitutional being. You know these guys have no power to subpoena, theyve no judiciary powers, they cant even enforce anything, these are just three individuals who are going around with a so-called mandate to instigate and instil a sense of national healing. These things come from the constitution. The constitution of Zimbabwe, during its amendment in the 90s, if there had been a commitment on the part of ZANU PF to truly get the people of Zimbabwe on a path of national healing, they should have made it a constitutional issue then. It must be a product of an Act so this is why, being an almost invisible cloak on some agreement by three political parties, it has no budget, it has no institutional legitimacy. So its lack of existence, that perceived lack of existence is because it lacks any legislative powers and Im sure that perhaps Mai Holland would understand that if an institutional organ does not have any legal being it is almost persona non grata and its going to be wasting resources. So we need something that is more grounded on legality, which is constitutional by Act of parliament and then perhaps we can then start talking about a programme of delivery.
GONDA: Do you agree (interrupted)
HOLLAND: Excuse me, I just wanted to say to Mr Ngwenya, that the Global Political Agreement as a document is very weak and its very flawed but it is a document and its signing has led to a factual position, a status of Zimbabwe that we are a country that is no longer in conflict. People are not doing what they were doing in 2006, in 2007 and in 2008. We are in transition and that during transition we are supposed to actually follow the GPA and be GPA compliant in building together as a society peace building tools which takes us of transition into post conflict and that is because (interrupted)
NGWENYA: ZANU PF has no commitment, has no morals, and has no spiritual interest in complying with the GPA which means its not legal. The GPA is not legally enforceable so whatever product comes out of the GPA.(interrupted)
HOLLAND: was it not adopted in parliament? The Global Political Agreement as a constitutional number with a figure on it?
NGWENYA: why is it you are still talking about 27 issues that are outstanding? If there was any legitimacy to this arrangement you could have even taken some people to Court for violating this Agreement Mrs Holland. So whatever processes are as a result of the GPA, this is why your Organ has no teeth because you dont have any judicial powers, you dont have any arresting powers, you cannot summon the perpetrators, it is even composed of perpetrators and victims. You need a neutral force, you need people that have no interest in reparations and psycho-social healing, those are the people that can have legitimacy on the ground. You guys are the victims, ZANU PF – the Nkomos in that Organ are perpetrators so how do perpetrators and victims instigate the process of national healing? It doesnt work like that, you need to restart!
HOLLAND: Can I just answer that as well? That the GPA is a document that is guaranteed by SADC and the African Union who exactly know the history of what has happened in Zimbabwe. If that document being signed by the political parties, that status which youre saying the GPA doesnt have, it really has in the region, on the continent and internationally. Ireland has been at war for 700 years with the UK. It has taken them quite a long time to get to the position where they are today. If you take the GPA as it is and you look through it there are a lot of things that have actually been achieved which have given people the muscle to start to put the foundations to a new society that is based on a peace building culture. To actually dismiss the GPA that nothing has happened, I think is an extremist position.
GONDA: Dr Shana?
SHANA: I think its a reality that what we have here is a flawed situation or an inconvenient situation for all people, its a compromise situation and we understand in compromises, there are things that dont always work from the ideal point of view. However the problem we have and I agree with Rejoice is that the political will to bring national healing does not seem to have been carried through by putting legislative facilitation on the ground, by giving resources to the National Healing; by even prioritising it in national activity or even worse still, a clear strategy of how to engage the nation in national healing. We understand it is going to take time to do so but what is the short term, medium term and long term strategy of the Organ of National Healing? No-one knows it, Im sure thats where we have this multiple dilemma of saying is there really an intention to execute national healing or is it paying lip service to keep the inclusive government limping along until we maybe get to a time when we have elections or something like that?
HOLLAND: Yah Ive heard you talk Dr Shana, thank you very much. The Organ, when it was formed, its a fact that we really ourselves as the three principals in the Organ didnt really understand what we needed to do but in talking to people in these past 15 months, we have finally two weeks ago, finally come to an agreement with UNDP for a one year programme based on what we have done last year with what people have told us they want done. This UNDP document for 12 months, weve got a three month short focal programme we are going to do in the next three months. The whole process is leading to two things in the medium term which is a national stakeholders, all stakeholders meeting which we want to(interrupted)
SHANA: but Minister, youve been saying that ever since we started engaging here (interrupted)
HOLLAND: Can I say what the second thing is? Its an experts meeting, where experts in the field of national healing – then also have their conference. What we hope comes out of this process is a national code of conduct which is by agreement among Zimbabweans. The three of us cannot present people with a conclusion of how Zimbabweans should put the mechanism in place for building peace. It has to come from the Zimbabwean people themselves.
SHANA: Youve been saying that for the past 18 months that weve been working with the Organ, the same thing, stakeholders meeting, bringing in consultants, its been the same mantra over and over again, we want to see action on the ground.
HOLLAND: Is this Shana talking?
GONDA: Yes its Dr Shana talking. As the church and civil society, what are you doing though to help this national healing Organ move forward? Is there anything, have you offered suggestions on how it can move forward as the church and as civil society?
SHANA: Violet from the churches point of view before the Organ of National Healing was even formed, we called a meeting with relevant ministers, even before the actual GPA we had already said, look we are so polarised, its not going to be possible for us to rebuild this nation without going through a healing and reconciliation process so we are offering ourselves to facilitate this process. Secondly, three or four weeks after the inclusive government was formed, we called a meeting at Synod House in Harare where we dialogued with top members of the government at that time before the Organ was even formed and we said we are offering ourselves again to help facilitate this because the church, because of its inclusive membership, because of its natural role as peacemakers, we would like to help facilitate. We came together with NANGO to have a draft, a national healing document which we presented to the Organ to say this is how we think we can help you facilitate this process. We are offering ourselves as your secretariat, as your feet, you provide the political and legislative context and we will do the rest for you but we had very little feedback coming back from them; we had to pursue again and again. I think we are justified in saying that we are feeling a sense of frustration and stagnation with the process.
GONDA: Mai Holland, can you respond to that?
HOLLAND: Yes Ive heard all that, thank you very much. Violet, the Organ is a government entity and the government is what really is the basis of the society. So the offers of the church have been extremely useful and we have incorporated quite a number of extremely useful foundational building blocks from the document they gave us. Also its important to say to the church, in Zimbabwe, in the spiritual world, you have Muslims, you have Jewish people, you have Greek Orthodox, you have spirit mediums and what we have said to everybody is that we would actually rather use faith-based organisations so that we have an inclusive understanding of the whole spiritual area. Ive said to you Violet, the Organ is aware of a lot of excellent programmes being done by the church itself, as the church, as the Christian church. We are briefed, we are told what they are doing, they also brief us
GONDA: But what about the point he has made that there is little feedback?
HOLLAND: Im saying, as we speak now, we have been asked by the Cabinet to actually deal with the Anglican conflict and we are in the middle of what we think is a very fruitful interaction because we were very glad to read in the paper, Bishop, Archbishop Kunonga actually reiterating the words we had gone through with him at a time when the two groups were not really on talking terms but after meetings in which we were trying to bring them to talk to one another we can see an outcome. What Im trying to say to you Violet is, as government, trying to put up a new entity, there is in motion, practise that things are not done over night but when they are done, they really have excellent results. Weve just had, as an Organ in partnership with the Ministry for Women, Minister Olivia Muchena and myself, we invited Mary Robinson here with a delegation of seven distinguished African women. They were able to meet with the president four times, there at a public meeting and then twice outside the meetings
GONDA: Yes but Mai Holland, the criticism
HOLLAND: and the programmes that are coming out of those linkages are at the moment being developed. We have all these partnerships with the churches, with the NGOs, we had a meeting the other day which was done by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and I thought myself we had a very fruitful exchange where the Organ has been able to actually learn a number of points about how civil society are doing their own work which is very welcome to us. The way that the production of what we are doing comes out is really very slow but it is happening for those that are close to it, it is producing very good results and it is spreading inside Zimbabwe and outside. And as Dr Shana says, weve been saying the same thing for 18 months, we are saying the same thing because we are working towards (interrupted)
NGWENYA: Gogo, timbotaurowo gogo kani (asks Amai Holland to give others a chance to speak)
GONDA: let me bring in Mr Ngwenya. Mr Ngwenya before you say what you wanted to say I also wanted to ask you a question about many people criticising the Organ, saying that theres just too many workshops, too many talk-shops and little action while violence is actually continuing in some areas, especially in some rural areas. What can you say about that?
NGWENYA: Absolutely. National Healing is a task that should be undertaken by professionals. You know it is based on quantitative analysis. Now there are literally hundreds and thousands of research documents that have been carried out by civil society organisations, by churches, by the NGO forum where cases of rape and human rights abuse and the plunder of life have been articulated, documented. This Organ needed not to have reinvented the wheel, all they needed to do was to go into the documentation, go into the archives and simply pull out the records that date back to 1986 when ZANU PF begun plundering the lives of the citizens of Zimbabwe. They are trying to reinvent the wheel and they are not going to make a single headway because this transitional programme must be grounded in grassroots.
So I tend to agree with Dr Shana that perhaps instead of posturing around in grand meetings in well-lit conference centres – simply go back to the basics, go into the quantitative analysis of this information that is well documented. Start from there, look for legitimacy and push for legislation. If Saviour Kasukuwere has pushed for legislation for indigenisation, surely important things like national healing can also follow that trend? So that people can begin from an area of justice and fairness. Because at this rate Violet, I dont think this Organ is going to achieve anything.
GONDA: And Mr Ngwenya, you have said some of the politicians have been perpetrators of the violence we have seen in Zimbabwe but can politicians actually stay out of this national healing programme?
NGWENYA: The role of politicians is to play their legislative role; they should put a policy framework in place so that civil society and independent and neutral individuals can carry the way forward. Since the mid-80s, we have never heard of Robert Mugabe confessing, or even mentioning or being sorry or even saying anything about the Gukurahundi. It seems that what they have simply done, is they have taken three Ndebeles and thrust them into the epicentre of so-called national healing. Why is it that the perpetrators themselves have not come out? We want to see names written down, we want to see people sitting down and confessing to their crimes so that justice can come with forgiving. We want to see the courts incriminating people, the ZANU PF activists that had been murdering and maiming people since 2000, they are all walking around loose and Sekai Holland is moving around the country, we want to hear names. If this Organ was serious we should be seeing a database of individuals that committed crimes, they should be brought to justice, we dont even need to reinvent the wheel here.
GONDA: But when you say they have taken three Ndebeles
SHANA: Hello Violet
GONDA: Hold on Dr Shana. Mr Ngwenya when you say that theyve taken three Ndebeles to head this programme what exactly are you saying? Are you accusing the government of tribalism?
NGWENYA: Listen the facts are very clear. Theres John Nkomo, theres Gibson Sibanda and theres Sekai Holland to run the Organ of National Healing and these guys are either perpetrators or victims so it doesnt make sense. The true and value adding national healing must be done, it must represent all ethnic groups. We dont have a single white man in that group, we dont have single person of mixed race, we dont even have a single Indian and each and every aspect of Zimbabwean life has been touched by this despotic, fanatic fascism and we want an Organ that is representative of the ethnic grouping of Zimbabwe, not just a couple of Ndebele guys who have just simply been given jobs to do, that is not national healing to me. Its a fake, its very fake and this whole thing needs to be reconstructed.
GONDA: Join us next week for the concluding segment of this heated debate between Minister Sekai Holland, analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and church leader Dr Goodwill Shana. Is there a real intention to execute national healing or this is a process that will limp forward until next elections?
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