No accountability, no reconcilliation - Gibson Sibanda
No accountability, no reconciliation - Gibson Sibanda
2010 07 08
Written by Tony Saxon
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 09:04
Zimbabwe cannot achieve lasting peace or true reconciliation until perpetrators of human rights abuse are held to account and the structures of political violence dismantled, a top politician has said.
(Pictured: Joshua Nkomo - Denied sponsoring dissidents)
MDC-M deputy president Gibson Sibanda predicted more political violence in the next elections, saying the new constitution the country is drafting cannot on its own end violence while the structural, political and social factors that have fuelled the cycles of politically-motivated hostilities of the past remain unresolved.
“The failure to hold accountable those responsible for each episode of political violence has subsequently become part of the national fabric ensuring the continued use of violence,” said Sibanda, who is a member of the government’s Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation.
Sibanda, who was speaking at a conference on national healing here last Thursday, said the process of dealing with the past was risky and painful but one that Zimbabwe must undertake in order to exorcise the “fear and distrust” of each other among various population groups.
“Due to the historical legacy in Zimbabwe of organised political violence with impunity and few consequences for the perpetrators, victims will have doubts about the objective of the national healing processes,” said Sibanda who hails from Matabeleland where thousands of innocent civillains were murdered in the early 80’s by the notorious North Korean-trained 5th Brigade.
The 5th Brigade was deployed in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces - home of the Ndebele - ostensibly to crush an armed insurrection against President Robert Mugabe’s rule but ended up wantonly massacring innocent civilians they accused of backing the rebels.
The military crackdown only ended after late nationalist and vice-president Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU opposition party agreed to be merged into Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party under a Unity Accord signed in 1987. Mugabe had accused Nkomo - the father of Zimbabwean nationalism - of sponsoring rebels in a bid to seize power. Nkomo denied the charge.
Many civil society groups from Matabaleland and Midlands have called for compensation for victims of the 5th Brigade campaign known as Gukurahundi.
Mugabe - who some say personally ordered deployment of the 5th Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands - has called the killings an “act of madness”. But the 85-year-old leader has never personally accepted responsibility for the civilian murders or formally apologised. He has also steadfastly refused to yield to calls for the government to compensate victims of the brutal army operation.
A relative lull in politically-motivated violence, rights abuses and killings that followed the signing of the Unity Accord was broken in 2000 when hordes of Zanu (PF) supporters, war veterans and members of the security forces began invading white-owned commercial farms and targeting supporters of the MDC for attacks. The MDC had been formed a year earlier to challenge Mugabe’s hold on power and political violence and human rights abuses have accompanied Zimbabwe’s elections since then.