June 2008 victims still to return home

The Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation has failed to resolve the issue of transitional justice with 94 percent of people interviewed by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) saying that perpetrators of violence have not made an apology and many are failing to return to their displaced homes.

This is despite the fact that the Global Political Agreement explicitly called for the partners in the GNU to, "strive for the creation of an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans and that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency irrespective of age, gender, and race, and ethnicity, place of origin or political affiliation".

The ZESN report that is premised on statements made by observers who were deployed countrywide.

"Observers also reported that citizens that had been displaced during the violence of June 2008 have not been able to return. Reports show that 57% of the displaced in these communities have not been able to return against the 43% who have returned," noted the report.

ZESN noted that the failure by the hybrid government to initiate national healing and by communities to take responsibility for the

2008 violence is regressive and could result in the resurgence of violence if elections are to be held.

"An apology is an inexpensive way of promoting peace and fostering healing in traumatised communities. Lack of apologies does not engender reduction of hostilities and sources of antagonisms in communities. This further belies shortcomings in the national healing process where no holistic programmes or actor has been taken to date by the Organ on National Healing.

President Robert Mugabe has never publicly apologized for the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s and 96 percent of his supporters who were the perpetrators of violence have also not apologized according to ZESN.

"ZESN believes that a delicate balance has to be maintained between punishing perpetrators and national reconciliation in a country that has been torn by conflict. The culture of impunity that has been created by the in balance between reconciliation and justice which could explain the continued human rights violations that Zimbabweans have been subjected to notwithstanding the presence of the Government of National Unity."

ZESN noted that measures to remove antagonism have not been put in place and reconciliation and national healing have been emphasised at the expense of the victims' right to justice. The absence of punishment has in fact led perpetrators to believe that they are above the law and indirectly resulted in victims taking the law into their own hands which begets more violence.

The Organ on Reconciliation and National Healing has been viewed as ineffective by citizens in the execution of its mandate. Evidence from the Mass Public Opinion Institute in a survey conducted in 2011, indicated low levels of trust in the Organ by citizens.

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