WOZA study explores rights abuses

Members of WOZA have completed a study on Transitional Justice and the results will be launched soon but this is a preview. We wanted to understand Zimbabweans understanding of 'Transitional Justice' and to see what people think of the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration. We also wanted to find out the effect of human rights violations and who is responsible and how victims feel.

The findings revealed that: 54% of members and non members have never heard of 'Transitional Justice' before?

74% of people said it means FREEDOM to them? What does it mean to you?

80% of people have experienced personally or had a close relative experience human rights abuses?

28 % said they had experienced Assaults and 26% said they have experienced torture themselves. They said the result of this for 49% was Minor Injury e.g. beatings with no injury, slapping, detention and 26% said they experienced Major Injury e.g., rape, torture, arson.

Other details: Matabeleland North interviewees were Traumatized; experienced starvation and disability. Matabeleland South mentioned madness, trauma, hatred, hunger, detention. Harare non member experienced being burnt with plastics.

The 40% majority of perpetrators were security agents with political activists scoring 37%. Security agents are clearly abusing the role of protecting the nation; instead they are the majority of perpetrators under the study. They are also highly active during volatile periods like run up to election and post election periods areas that oppose/contest political power are easy targets for the powers that be.

82% of victims said they are 'BITTER' and 64% said they are 'STILL STRUGGLING'

Other comments included feeling pain; another said they want to move to another country. Matabeleland South interviewees said they are very hurt as a result of the torture; another said they are haunted by the past. People really need reconciliation and healing but need to participate in how it can be done to benefit the suffering.

While it is clear that the majority of the respondents are either struggling or bitter, it is also a sign to the powers that be and all relevant stakeholders that transitional justice cannot be given lip service but needs to be prioritized. The same can be said for the table that follows.

45% of people said perpetrators can NEVER repent. 28% said MAYBE. This was in response to the question – Do you think the perpetrators can repent?

42% of people said they can NEVER be healed. 29 % said maybe.

45% of people want to be compensated for losses and suffering. An indication of desperation for a people prescribed mechanisms that include views of victims into a way forward. 20% were of the opinion that prosecution of the perpetrators was ideal so as to foster healing and reconciliation.

Closure was also cited as important for reconciliation with 16% of the respondents saying so. 6% argued that it was important to move on with no reparation or prosecution taking place since everyone was affected and that the abuses took place during a time of crisis.

Responses to the following question – What do you think is key to bringing about national healing, reconciliation and Integration in Zimbabwe? 28% said they want the setting up of a Truth and reconciliation Commission. 21% said the perpetrators must be prosecuted in a court of law.

Members were also asked who they think can be trusted with leading the national healing, reconciliation and integration in Zimbabwe? 25% said The churches; 23% Civil society and an also for an international Body; The organ on National reconciliation and integration and The government both scored 12%.

The survey also dealt with the issue of what time period a Transitional Justice should deal with? If we have to address the past cases of human rights abuses, how far back should we go? 51% replied 'Just After independence'.

Of special note are responses from Matabeleland regions. This is because they wanted the process to cover the Gukurahundi era. It is also important to take into account the effect of Operation Murambatsvina of 2005. A period that saw a lot of abuses being perpetrated against the general population.

To the questions – Who do you blame for the abuses? 40% placed the blame fairly and squarely on showing the political parties and in support of this 34% said the political leadership of the country. 99% said the Zanu PF party perpetrated most abuses. 15% were the opinion that the perpetrators in their personal capacity were to be held accountable for the activities.

It is clear that people strongly feel that the political leadership of the country should be held accountable and answerable for the various abuses. It has been noted from the survey that most of the human rights violations are concentrated around election period and are happening right under the nose of the political leaders.

As the Peace day theme deals with Democracy we also share the results

from the questions relating to Elections. Question – Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: It is possible for the next elections in Zimbabwe to be free and fair?

38% Disagree; 31% strongly disagree; 16% Agree; 8% strongly Agree

What do you think is most important for free and fair elections in

Zimbabwe? 35% said they would need a Democratic Constitution first!

23% said they would need to involving International observers.

We asked – Do you have any personal fears now pertaining to human

rights violation? 52% said they are always afraid when it comes to

elections. 39% said because of political parties causing human rights

abuses during this period.

Lastly, we asked – Have you ever heard about the Organ on National

healing and reconciliation? 52% said they had heard of it but when

asked to assess the performance of the Organ, they 35% said it

performed very badly but 33% said they had not heard of it.

Post published in: Politics

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