National healing organ remains unknown

Wongai Zhangazha

THE organ on National Healing and Reconciliation is still virtually unknown among people in both rural and urban areas two years after its establishment, while the few who knew about it believe it is performing dismally, says a survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI).

The “mini-national survey” was conducted in August 2010 with a sample size of 1 000 adults to gauge public opinion on the performance of the inclusive government as benchmarked against the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

 

Among other things, the survey asked people whether they had heard about the organ and how they rated its performance. The poll’s findings were launched last week.

In the rural areas, 68% of the interviewees said they had not heard about the organ. The same response was obtained from 63% in the urban areas.
When asked what they thought of the organ’s performance, 12% said it was bad while another 12% said it was good.

However, 67% could not answer the question as they did not know about the organ, said the survey.

The organ on national healing has been criticised by human rights activists, politicians and victims of political violence for its slow pace in ensuring that there is national healing and reconciliation in the country.

Recently, Harare has witnessed a resurgence of politically motivated violence where Zanu PF and MDC youths have clashed in high density areas, among them, Epworth, Mbare and Budiriro.

The clashes have left a number of people injured and houses destroyed and only MDC-T youths have been arrested and fingered as the main perpetrators of the violence.

The fights are cited by civic organisations and political observers as examples of how the organ has failed to make any meaningful progress apart from nationwide consultations on how best to deal with the process and advertisements that are played on state radio and television stations which are, however, watered down by Zanu PF jingles that are played after every 30 minutes.

The survey said a lot of people (76%) thought that Mugabe had the most power in the inclusive government despite Article 20.1.1 of the GPA that says the executive authority of the inclusive government shall vest in and be shared among the president, the prime minister and the cabinet as provided for in the constitution.

A small percentage (5%) was of the opinion that Tsvangirai did not have power followed by cabinet with only 2%.

“The president is the one with the power, and when he goes outside the country he has never let Tsvangirai in control, he will leave power to his associates which shows he is still the one ruling,” said one man from Bulawayo quoted in the survey.

While a man from Harare said: “The one who yields power is the president because on closer analysis the prime minister always consults the president in accordance with the provisions of the Global Political Agreement, so if the president vetoes that, nothing will take place.”

The survey also notes that people did not trust security forces to protect them from any forms of violence and abuse.

“Just above 51% of the respondents had a dim view about the trust they repose in security forces (soldiers and police) as 47% expressed confidence in the uniformed forces. A plurality professed ignorance about the performance of the judiciary whereas a combined total of 29% felt that this arm of the government is doing its job in an objective manner,” reads the survey. “Nevertheless a total of 26% thought that the interpreters of the law are doing a bad job while 16% believe that the judiciary’s performance is neither well nor bad.”

When asked of their opinion on the performance of security forces in accordance to the GPA which requires all state organs and institutions to strictly observe the principles of the rule of law and remain non partisan and impartial, 36% of the interviewees said the security forces were performing badly while 32% thought that they were doing well.

On the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, a majority of adults (62%), who knew about the policy thought it was good, while 32% suggested that the government should fully implement the GPA provisions to resuscitate the economy.

A majority of people (73%) interviewed in the survey felt that the economy had improved in the past year while 10% felt their economic condition had deteriorated and 2% claimed they had not witnessed any changes.

“Asked to judge how their living conditions had changed in the previous 12 months a tiny 13% had a negative rating of their personal living conditions claiming that it had deteriorated while a majority of 67% agreed that their living conditions had indeed changed for the better. A fifth (20%) said their living conditions had stayed the same,” adds the survey.