Violence victims demand peace commission

Menard Ushe remains consumed by grief and betrayal almost seven years after he lost his home and all his belongings in political violence in Uzumba area of Mashonaland East province.

Regina Ndlovu
Regina Ndlovu

He was a headmaster at a local school and was forced to flee the area in 2008 after Zanu (PF) supporters burnt his house and property, accusing him of campaigning for the MDC–T. He is bitter that his tormentors have not been made to account for their deeds.

“I lost everything in my life just because of my support for the MDC. What pains me mostly is that my tormentors are still walking free while most of the victims of violence like myself are struggling to recover from the setbacks of political violence,” said Ushe, who is also the Information and Publicity Secretary of the MDC Veterans Activists Association (VAA).

He said the association was extremely concerned at government’s “lackadaisical approach” to addressing issues of post–conflict justice. ”We are angry that the government has not set up the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) despite the constitution providing for this. Our major fear as victims is that some perpetrators might die before they are held accountable for their violent behaviour. Some of the victims have o died while their tormentors have not been subjected to any form of trial,” he said.

Bottled anger

Ushe revealed that there is a lot of bottled anger among victims of political violence in Mashonaland East that could explode soon. “There is a lot of hatred and conflict among people as a result of this violence,” he said.

Another victim, Regina Ndlovu – whose huts were burnt down by Zanu (PF supporters in St Peters on the outskirts of Bulawayo, said the government’s failure to set up instruments to redress political violence had created unnecessary conflict in society.

“I am longing the day when the people who burnt my huts will be hauled before the courts to account for their actions. Only after that will I sleep peaceful nights,” she said.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum last month embarked on a countrywide community engagement exercise on the urgent need for the formation of NPRC. Dzikamai Bere, a researcher with the Forum, said the process included the distribution of pamphlets that explain the functions of an NPRC and outline strategies that members of the public can employ to ensure that it is set up.

”We want citizens to lobby all relevant organs, including parliamentarians, local councillors and the media. We need this peace commission urgently and we have to push for it,” he said.

Post published in: Gender Equality

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