Reconciliation – this year, next year, sometime?

Anyone who remembers 1980 remembers Robert Mugabe’s first radio speech as Prime Minister. His supporters and his opponents were surprised and pleased by his emphasis on reconciliation. “We are one nation: let’s put our differences behind us” was what we needed to hear.

He did not go into details. In a first presentation of such a revolutionary idea, that is hardly possible. But we never did hear the details, from him or anybody else. Neither he nor his opponents seemed to know what that word means. There were wounds to be healed, wounded minds and spirits – much more difficult to heal than wounded bodies. The people who had lost the war needed to be reminded to give up positions and attitudes that had provoked so many of the best of our youth to fight them. The victors needed to admit that they, too, had committed crimes. Both sides needed reminding that you can’t heal wounds without exposing the injury and applying remedies that may hurt.

Whether the wound is a broken limb, a stab wound, wounded dignity, grief for lost loved ones or other grievances, the principle is the same. If you don’t give the appropriate treatment, wounds fester; cuts and burns turn gangrenous, grief and thirst for justice turn to resentment.

The leaders on both sides, using that word as soft soap to “put all that behind us” very quickly returned to ‘business as usual’. The CIO and police continued ‘business as usual’ with many staff, black and white, who had propped up the racist regime. Does the leopard change his spots? This one didn’t. If you had the skills for their kind of politics, and were ready to do all they told you, they were colour-blind. But Zanu (PF) never forgets an enemy. They’d fought ZAPU before they took on the Rhodesians and they don’t forget, so Gukurahundi came. Then Zanu (PF) swallowed ZAPU. They preferred to think in tribalist and racist categories, so there was no place in their scheme of things for Shona people who had supported ZAPU.

They didn’t trouble retired old men, but their sons, if they followed their fathers’ ways, found they were “non-persons” in the new Zimbabwe. Should we be thankful for that small mercy shown to the old? If they had been Ndebele, there would have been no mercy for them.

White farmers got a respite. If they contributed generously enough to Zanu (PF), that party might even help them keep their workers in line. Did you ever look up government’s wage statistics? The wages recorded (usually a year late) for farm workers were obviously “cooked”.

But if anybody thought the hatchet was buried discovered their mistake when Hitler Hunzvi, Chinotimba & co got going. And the farm labourers suffered the most from that, just as they always had. I can’t figure that, unless they really were victims of tribalism aimed at the “people without totems.”

So why should anyone think the GPA would mean anything to a party that behaves like that? The army and police still won’t salute the Prime Minister. I doubt whether he trusts them not to kill him if they get the chance. In the third year of the GNU, a Zanu (PF) minister was sacked from her party and therefore from the government because she showed colleagues from the majority party the courtesy colleagues would expect in a normal country.

Can we expect any better in 2012? I predict more frivolous charges against MPs, wasting their time in courtroom appearances that get them nowhere, continued mutiny by army and police against our elected government, continued occupation of the radio and TV studios by one party and, in short, the same old Zanu (PF) bag of tricks until they hit an immovable obstacle. Maybe this year, maybe next year, but certainly some time.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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