The Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (the Organ) was established more than 3 years ago under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), in recognition of the need for National Healing. The political parties represented in the GPA, agreed, among other things, that they would ensure equal treatment of all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and place of origin and that they would give consideration to the setting up of a mechanism to properly advise on what measures might be necessary and practicable to achieve national healing. However, the fruits of their labour have not been felt at the grass roots level as people have not been healed.
In fact violence continues to occur in many communities. News reports from Monday the 29th of October show that youth militia have resuscitated three terror bases in Mashonaland West, where villagers are reportedly being harassed and intimidated if they do not attend political party meetings. Also militias are jogging every morning, intimidating villagers with liberation war songs and reminding them of the 2008 election violence. The youths are also reportedly assaulting people disembarking from buses, for not attending their daily meetings.
These incidences of violence become important in light of the news that the Organ has embarked on research to establish if Zimbabweans are “naturally or culturally violent” following cases of political violence in the past elections. This raises many questions; are Zimbabweans a violent people, or do political parties instigate violence through cohesion and intimidation to gain political advantage?
MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube is on record for saying, on Wednesday the 24th of October 2012, that “We need to come to terms with our past and realise that we cannot continue to resort to violence every time we are confronted by different and sometimes difficult views, political or social. It is imperative to create an ethos that understands that differences in themselves are good and create creativity in society. We cannot allow ourselves to always gravitate towards violence with the ease of an established guitar player at a musical gala as if violence is our genetic default mode when faced with challenge.”
Is it true that Zimbabweans resort to violence as a genetic default? Isn’t it true that many Zimbabweans have been victims of political violence? How many of them have retaliated with violence for the violations they suffered at the hands of the violent ones?
We wait for the findings of the Organ’s research. However if history has taught us anything we know that Zimbabweans are not naturally a violent people. The criminal statistics in the past show this. The only thing that has changed is the political atmosphere. Maybe we need to redirect our attention to see what has specifically changed in the last few years and how we may remedy it.