RECENTLY, we have heard and read interesting things about national healing. A substantial amount of information, mostly from political figures, has been disseminated about this special process in the media.
Ministers John Nkomo (Zanu PF), Sekai Holland (MDC-T) and Gibson Sibanda of MDC), have been appointed to lead this task. Quite interestingly, they are state ministers, not Cabinet members, which means their importance is not quite up there with the rest.
The three parties have, as they have done with many national issues, taken it upon themselves to decide the national healing course.
The pronouncements made recently by the three parties give the impression that Zimbabweans will one day wake up and find themselves healed from some obscure ailment that seems to be taboo to pronounce.
Healing, I suppose, in the medical and even biblical sense, generally presupposes an injury or ailment of some sort, either to the physical being of a life, or to the soul. The healer (who is qualified either by trust or practice) then prescribes certain measures or implements them on the patient, who responds by reverting to a state or condition closest to his condition prior to the ailment.
Such healing often begins at diagnosis level, where the healer identifies or approximates the problem bedevilling the patient. After this, the healer prescribes a medicine or a concoction of medicines that might help overcome the victimâ€™s problem. When the patient takes these medicines, they have in earnest begun the process of treatment during which they begin to heal or recover from their disease.
In Zimbabweâ€™s case, what is the diagnosis? And what is the treatment? These are questions that our leaders in the inclusive government seem not to have pondered.
The healing our politicians describe is some miraculous â€œstand up and walkâ€ routine that we have only witnessed at religious crusades or, at least, read from the Holy Bible.
The overwhelming desire from our leadership is that we be healed quickly before a full diagnosis of the problem has been made. Instead of giving us relief, this attitude only inclines us towards suspicion.
The world knows that Zimbabweans have suffered untold trauma on different fronts â€” political, social and economic. We have suffered so much that we are even afraid to say it is not a headache we have but a stomach ache. We have fallen so ill with docility that we cannot stand up against anything forced down our throats by our politicians-cum-medical practitioners.
For over 10 years, more than half of Zimbabweâ€™s population has lived and died like paupers because of the unprecedented economic decline that this country has become synonymous with. Yet, there was a government that presided over this decline, stubbornly declaring Zimbabwe could go it alone while blaming economic sanctions for its failures.
The country had become so impotent that the only thing it could produce was a worthless assortment of bank notes.
Since 2000, Zimbabweans have suffered injuries and deaths during election time and their will has not been allowed to carry the day, because, President Mugabe once told us, â€œthe bullet is mightier than the ballotâ€.
The Matabeleland atrocities of the 1980s are still fresh in the minds of many, more than two decades after they were committed. Parents still talk about what their sons and daughters could have grown up to become had they not been so viciously killed during the days of Gukurahundi.
Recently, in 2005 thousands of families were displaced under Operation Murambatsvina and many are yet to find their feet since then. Some lives were lost too during this unfortunate exercise.
But most recently, in June 2008, scores of people were maimed, killed, abducted or vilified for political reasons. Many are yet to be found while some remain incarcerated in various detention centres under merciless conditions.
At least four newspapers were shut down under repressive laws during that time, while many journalists were harassed for seeking and writing the truth. The country remains at the mercy of a very boring and partisan broadcaster while applicants are denied licences to open up new stations.
In all these cases, the guilty party is the state and its various apparatus. It is the state that presided over the killings in Matabeleland, the destruction of homes under Murambatsvina and the closure of newspapers daring to oppose its views and policies.
It is the same government, now reincarnated as some â€œinclusiveâ€ form that continues to muzzle the media and pretend it is willing to give us many, many choices in the not so foreseeable future.
In short the illness has been inflicted by our politicians.
Yet, ironically, it is the state that tells us we need healing. As if that is not enough, the same creature presides over that healing process. Has commonsense become not so common these days? How can the perpetrator of an offence claim to lead its investigation without partiality?
It should not be governmentâ€™s responsibility to make noise about national healing.
Likewise, it should not be the responsibility of politicians in the three ruling parties to claim that they have begun the process of national healing.
If this national healing is to be a genuine exercise, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC (in that order of extremity) should confess to their wrongdoings and ask the people how they think they need to be compensated for the harm done to them.
Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara should say â€œwe are sorryâ€ to Zimbabwe and not appoint supposed ministers to â€œleadâ€ some obscure self-preserving purpose.
Zanu PF and the two MDC formations need to admit their complicity in the loss of lives in elections since 2000. The MDC might claim it was more the victim than the perpetrator, but for letting its supporters risk, and indeed, lose their lives in the partyâ€™s name and cause, the MDC is guilty as charged.
Â For convincing supporters to don its regalia and campaign for it even under the most dangerous of conditions is culpability in its furthest extremity.
Zanu PF and MDC must each admit to their contributions to the suffering of the people.
Zanu PF must admit and apologise for the thousands of lives lost under its rule, at the hands of its apparatus â€” in Matabeleland, in June 2008 and in any other elections.
In fact, Zanu PF has a lot to apologise for. This is not to absolve the MDC, which was also often on the wrong side of arson and murder accusations. The same party has also led its supporters to believe that Zanu PF was so bad that the MDC could never work with it. Now that the bosses of the party are having coffee together, what happens to ordinary villagers who had barricaded each otherâ€™s paths with thorn branches?
A book of apologies cataloguing the numbers of victims, their locations and possible compensation must be opened by an impartial body such as the church, whose congregations span the political divide.
After apologising, these parties must then take corrective measures. The traumatised must be rehabilitated into society and taught to again trust the government, the police and the army. The military should reconstruct where they have destroyed.
They should help locate and excavate bodies buried in some secret graves and hand them over to their families for proper interment. Hopefully, these souls will then rest in peace.
Ureke is a Harare-based journalist.
BY OSWELLED UREKE