‘We have done wrong to our people through violence and fighting among ourselves. We must now take absolute care and caution and ensure the fights of yesterday are buried in the past,all fights, all struggles that were violent should not be allowed. Political party membership should never be forced. We organize ourselves on the basis of freedom of choice, belonging to a party of choice and freely voting for the party of choice.’ President Mugabe
18 April was Independence Day and some people chose to celebrate it in the stadium to hear the President speak and watch a soccer match. The President got my attention when he spoke of political violence, a problem whose existence and extent ZANU PF has, in the past, denied. To hear the leader of the party publicly acknowledge that it was wrong was a balm to my heart. Yes, we can never erase the pain we felt, nor the homes we lost, neither will it bring back the loved ones who perished but the first step to any recovery is to admit that there is a problem.And to Zimbabwe the admission is that political violence occurred-no doubt- and a lot of lives were destroyed.
I agree with the President’s sentiments on political violence. Every political party needs to commit to no violence and make their supporters understand that their neighbour with different views is not the enemy. Therefore there is no need to set up party bases during elections because we are not at war? There is no need to force people to attend political rallies; after all they will be alone in the ballot box. There is no need to pull people out of their homes at night to beat them up; political opinion no matter how absurd is a human right.
I applauded President Mugabe’s bold move to state the obvious, that his party is guilty of perpetrating violence. However I believe that more can be done. Yes he admitted it, but that was the first step. There is need to take a second step, to make amends to all those who were harmed. This is so that Zimbabwe as a whole can move on.
Making amends may take different forms from imprisoning the perpetrators of violence and those who instigated the violence to bringing compensation to those who suffered some harm. It may just take the form of a simple apology from the leaders and the perpetrators to those they harmed. Whatever form it may take it is a necessary component in a restorative process for a nation that was wrecked by political violence.
So far, all we have are noble words from the President, now we wonder if these words will