The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Mrs Navanethem Pillay is due in Zimbabwe for a five day visit starting on the 21 May. The High Commissioner is expected to meet with civil society organisations and government officials, including meeting with President Mugabe on her mandate; human rights.
Civil society is preparing for this visit, collecting and collating information to give to the High Commissioner on the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the state. There will be a substantial pile of reports, testimonies, photographs and videos available for her perusal as Zimbabwean civil society has been documenting violations as far back the 1980s during Gukurahundi through the farm invasions, Murambatsvina, the violence associated with elections culminating in the worst election violence this country has ever seen in 2008, Chiadzwa up until today. These violations included amongst others assault, abduction, property destruction, looting, arson, forced disappearances, rape and murder.
The ZANU PF government has consistently stated that these non-governmental organisations are funded by the West and are thus fabricating these abuses for their own survival and to please their masters. This however no longer holds water as the President himself has come out and said that political violence should end; Zimbabweans should be free to participate in political activities of their choice. He admitted that violence was used for political gains. This however is not the first time that he has admitted that human rights violations were committed, after Gukurahundi he is on record saying it was a ‘moment of madness’. This admission however is insufficient as it is not an apology for the victims and there is no justice as the perpetrators of these violations have not been brought to book and to account for their commission of violence.
I would give anything to be a fly on the wall in her meetings with the ZANU PF government officials, listening to how they are going to blame the West, the MDC, civil society and goodness knows who else for the crimes that were committed in the name of their party.
For me the thrust of the High Commissioner’s visit should be to insist on an independent investigation of the human rights violations, we all know they happened and why they happened. For most of the crimes there is no statute of limitations so even crimes that happened 30 years ago can still be investigated. Where there is merit the perpetrators should be prosecuted and if found guilty sentenced to an appropriate jail term. This would be in accordance with Article 18(c) of the Global Political Agreement. Zimbabwe cannot move on with the albatross of violence hanging over our heads.