National Healing the big issue

The ushering in of the inclusive government led to the establishment of a national healing framework.

The ONHRI was established to bring healing, but is it working?
The ONHRI was established to bring healing, but is it working?

The inclusive government soon established the Organ on National Healing Reconciliation and Integration as a mechanism to end the vicious cycle of violence. However,there has been a lot to be desired in the implementation of the GPA, particularly article 7 dealing with national healing.

What has continued to characterise Zimbabwe politics has been the trampling of people’s human rights, lack of rule of law and victimisation of certain political players. The role of the ONHRI has not only been difficult, but it has been made untenable due to the continued lack of political will on the part of the politicians.

Also, the coming on board of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee has brought some form of relief, and the ONHRI needs to tap into the work that it has been doing. The decentralisation of the JOMIC is a clear opportunity that should be seized by the ONHRI in order to start programmes that will bring people together.

The media is also an outlet that the ONHRI can seize. Recent efforts by the ONHRI and the Ministry of Information and Publicity to engage the media should ensure the media’s direct involvement in the promotion of reconciliation and peace.

It is clear that there are certain conditions that have to be met before national healing and peace building can be realised. First and foremost, the political environment needs to improve. Secondly, legislative reforms need to be implemented in order to give impetus to the work of the organ. For example, an act of parliament that clearly outlines the role of the commission would be useful. Equally important is that other laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act need to be repealed.

Political division

Closely tied to the above is political will on the part of the leadership of the country. The fact that the government has allowed this process to start is key, however, national rebuilding cannot take place if the population remains deeply divided along political lines.

Civil society engagement is critical as it brings ownership of the whole process to a broad spectrum of society. Traditional leaders should also be given a key role. Civil society needs to improve its interaction with the traditional leaders and the traditional leaders also have to move away from their partisan manner of dealing with their subjects. – Lovemore Chinoputsa is Welfare and Documentation Officer at Heal Zimbabwe Trust.

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