24 January 2013

Zimbabwe: The Heart of the Matter - Political Violence Disrupts Efforts At National Healing

Zimbabwe's party leaders, whose followers have been, for years, embroiled in political violence, rape, murder and forcing people to abandon their homes, have, once again, vowed to stop political violence "by pledging to follow a code of conduct created by the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration".

While I applaud this move, I am not stupid enough to believe anyone of them is serious about it, considering the little respect the party leaders and the government itself give to this otherwise important organ.

At its inception and elevation to a ministerial level, the organ and its code have sought to hold political parties accountable for the violence their supporters commit.

This became the biggest stumbling block since most of the violence had been committed by ZANU-PF supporters against supporters of rival political parties.

ZANU-PF stood in the way and the Organ was relegated to a group of people who had basically nothing to do.

The Organ has no teeth and cannot prosecute anyone or impose punitive measures on any offender. Sekai Holland, the responsible minister of the Organ On National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, concedes that, unlike the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's code of conduct, which is on the statutes and criminalises acts of violence with penalties, including jail time, her ministry's code of conduct "is voluntary and follows the country's traditional ways of dealing with disputes".

Anyone who thinks today's political problems can be dealt with and sorted out by using Zimbabwe's "traditional ways of dealing with disputes" has two choices: to check into either Engutsheni or Ngomahuru Mental Hospitals.

Which of our so-called "traditional ways of dealing with disputes" can handle Chipangano or Al Shabaab, let alone ZANU-PF, which has single-handedly destroyed any traditional values we once had?

This is the kind of arrogance that kills our country, especially when our leaders connive and come up with such a facade of laws.

If it were that simple, our traditional ways of dealing with disputes would have intervened and stopped ZANU-PF from abusing and killing our people.

It is my hope that from wherever he is, Border Gezi is allowed to look down today and see the legacy of his narrow-minded and self-serving actions in Zimbabwe.

I cannot pray for his comfort while I and our people continue to suffer primarily because of his ignorant, selfish dabbling in politics.

If he feels a fraction of the pain and discomfort his invention is currently causing to our nation, then there is no need for us to pray for justice or for him.

The so-called Border Gezi Training Centres were nothing more than camps that turned our youths into vigilantes and places where Gezi indoctrinated our children with the art of brutality and political hooliganism, unsupported by common sense.

These centres of evil have now mutated into several "independent vigilante groups".

Gezi taught our children to kill their own people, parents and relatives in the pursuit of glorifying a man who had given him a job.

When Gezi's murderous "graduates" left their training bases, son could no longer trust parents; parents could no longer trust their daughters and family relations were strained due to suspicions of each other.

So much for employing traditional ways to settle disputes!

Although the Border Gezi graduates were ZANU-PF party cadres, they were government sponsored, making us understand that they were actually civil servants on national duty.

Yes, it was a party issue, a misguided undertaking to brainwash the youths into supporting and forcing people, through violence, to accept an unpopular government and its policies.

But, with all their indiscriminate violence, akin to the same government's deployment of the murderous North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade for the same purposes years earlier, the Border Gezi trainees were incorporated into government policy.

Indeed, our children could no longer be admitted to secondary schools, training institutes or any educational establishments without a certificate from the Border Gezi Training Center.

Border Gezi instituted and ran so-called training centres for the youths but when they graduated, we were suddenly their targets. Son was set against father; mother against daughter and the once "together families" were suddenly dangerously suspicious of each other, causing breakdown in families, marriages and society.

In typical North Korean fashion, the government (ZANU-PF) sent our own off spring to spy on us. Gradually, families degenerated into individuals. The fallout from the Gezi madness destroyed families.

The Border Gezi kids were so successfully well trained in brutality that they earned the moniker "Green Bombers".

It is precisely because of this man Border Gezi that ZANU-PF legitimised violence as can be seen in the mushrooming of several abnormally militant vigilante groups aligned to ZANU-PF, and this has nothing to do with tradition.

There is no room in our tradition for Kwekwe's infamous Al-Shabaab or for the notorious Chipangano, whose epicentre is Mbare, or the Hurungwe-based Jochomondo.

These ZANU-PF sponsored thugs are today terrorising the nation but remain untouchable to the law, having made the police part of their victims because they appear to be more powerful than the police while even ZANU-PF stalwarts, cabinet ministers and traditional chiefs are literally afraid of them.

Traditional ways of dealing with disputes, you say? Be serious!

Remember how these misfits invaded Parliament and beat up MPs and journalists? To this day, no arrests have been made for the violation of the sanctity of parliament and the injuring of lawmakers.

How an illegal group of misfits can thumb their noses at law and order, prevent lawmakers from doing their rounds in their constituencies and defy the police is a mystery.

The heart of the matter is that, although ZANU-PF, like the famed tokoloshi, has never been able to survive without violence, without bloodletting, our politicians must re-invent themselves. They must turn a new page and begin a new chapter.

Chipangano, Al Shabaab and Jochomondo are just symptoms of many that afflict ZANU-PF and, in turn, the nation.

Now party leaders have vowed to stop political violence by pledging to follow a code of conduct drawn up by the sleepy and sidelined Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.

Shall we believe them?

Holland said the party leaders, or so-called principals, are expected to sign the document at the end of February "to coincide with the launch of a new history project for the country", whatever that is.

After the way in which our country and our people suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the so-called war veterans, Chipangano, Al Shabaab, Jochomondo, our police and our army, everybody must do their part to stem the violence.

We cannot cannibalise ourselves and the nation in an effort to appease politicians whose space of concern goes no further than their stomachs.

The people of Zimbabwe continue to invest more of themselves, their worth and, as we have seen over the years, even their lives. Zimbabweans are more passionate about their country than the parties they belong to; they are especially better than the fake leaders who come along.

If politicians and their parties cannot stop making us live our lives in fear, they should get the hell out of our lives. There is need for every politician and aspiring politician to put the welfare of the people and the nation first.

Too many vultures are on the scene and hardly any of them cares for the health of the nation but care about how much of what they don't deserve they can get from the long suffering people.

Shall we believe them when they do nothing about that moron Jabulani Sibanda who, as we speak, is going around the country causing violence and despondency? If they are serious, why don't they start by arresting the uncultured viper?

It is my hope that Holland's Organ is not being used to fool the people into a false sense of expectation.

It is, further, my hope that this Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration will one day be taken seriously and that the work it was created to do is elevated in importance and relevance.

It is also my hope that the politicians will at least allow us, their victims, the decency to wash and clean our wounds so that we may recover well enough to care for our families because that is the only thing we want to do.

Bandages must come off now; Zimbabwe must heal and move forward.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, January 24th, 2013.

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