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Healing organ advocates justice for victims

HM: What has the Organ on National Healing achieved since its inception?

SH: We have fulfilled part of the mandate of article 7:1c of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in that we successfully advised cabinet on the adoption of the policy establishing the infrastructure for peace. We have also produced a code of conduct for parties because they are the source of cyclic political violence.

HM: Will the code have the force of law to be effective?

SH: The code of conduct has to be understood in the context of getting parties talking face-to-face and using their heads and hearts to accept that violence in politics is unacceptable.

HM: You have also been speaking about intra-party violence; is there still violence in your own party and if what are you doing about it?

SH: Yes, every political party in Zimbabwe is crying about intra-party violence. It is now staple fare so the code is important because violence has to be stopped.

HM: Given that political parties in Zimbabwe are known for making resolutions they never fulfill, what difference will this code make?

SH: The code is based on the parties’ understanding and willingness to implement the GPA, which is their own document. Zimbabweans now want peace so I am convinced the parties will do all they can to uphold the code.

HM: You were quoted in the state media as saying the code was “a Zimbabwean-driven process meant to address Zimbabwean problems without external interference”. Does it mean there are external forces trying to de-stabilise Zimbabwe?

SH: What I said was that for the first time the three political parties have understood answers to our problems should come from the people rather than from outside.

HM: What is the organ’s view on the Zimbabwean exiles’ initiative to seek retributive justice in South African courts against Zanu PF officials accused of violence in 2008?

SH: It is Zimbabweans’ democratic right to seek justice in the best way they can. We appeal to them to link what they are doing and what is happening at home so that they give our processes maximum support.

HM: How is your organ dealing with the issue of Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands, and do you feel this is an issue best forgotten as some senior Zanu PF politicians prefer?

SH: Gukurahundi is part of the injury that society has faced. It has to be dealt with in the context of truth, justice and forgiveness for reconciliation to take place. You cannot mask injuries and pretend things did not happen. There has to be acknowledgement and fair assessment. Some need an apology and they should get that. Truth, justice and forgiveness are what the organ is advocating in line with recommendations by our traditional leaders. After all it is said kugonangozi kuiripa (the best way to appease an avenging spirit is compensation).The Ndebele emphasise dialogue in resolving conflicts, so dialogue is the best.

HM: Finally what lessons have you drawn from countries like South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya on restorative and retributive justice?

SH: South Africa has taught us the need for truth, justice and forgiveness as the basis for reconciliation because if we skip these, there won’t be any reconciliation. An act of parliament is going to establish the National Peace and Reconciliation Council — a permanent body that will deal with the past, even the period before 2009. (The) Rwanda (genocide) is scary; do we (also) have to kill 800 000 people before peace prevails? No!

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