National healing has no clear mandate –– Holland

INCLUSIVE government leaders created the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration without a clue on how the national healing process will work, a minister responsible for the organ has said.

The national healing organ has received widespread criticism from civil society and political activists over its lack of impact and failure to address political tensions caused by years of state-sponsored conflict.

Sekai Holland, one of the three chairpersons of the organ, said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara failed to provide a clear mandate to the organ when they formed the coalition government.

“When we were appointed we thought that the three principals had an idea of what they wanted us to do,” Holland told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview on Wednesday. “They didn’t. They were relying on us as elders to advise them.”

Other organ chairpersons are Vice President John Nkomo and Gibson Sibanda.

Apart from a vague mandate, the national healing organ has been operating without an enabling law, Holland said.

She said the delay in legislating for a legal guide has made the organ powerless to implement concrete policies.

Holland said in the absence of a clear mandate, the organ members were forced to draw their own conclusions on what their work should be.

“From day one Vice President Nkomo said we were bridge builders and our duty was to build one bridge which would take us from the conflict period of Zimbabwe into the transition we are in today,” she said.

“Gibson Sibanda’s vision of the organ’s work was to remind Zimbabweans that in 1980 (then) Prime Minister Robert Mugabe declared a statement of reconciliation between Africans here and the whites. We all accepted it and we should move forward.”

She said the organ had signed a funding agreement with the United Nations Development Programme to facilitate grassroots work for national healing.

 

Wongai Zhangazha

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