Publications

At the root of Mugabe’s approach to the law is the notion that rules, including the national constitution, its subsidiary laws, and indeed, the ZANU PF party constitution are not inviolable. With this attitude as the foundation of governance by successive Mugabe-led regimes, the whole edifice of legality and constitutionalism has crumbled. For example, Mugabe and ZANU PF hold the new constitution to be a mere guideline that the government may adhere to at some unstated time in the future, rather than a sacrosanct document the provisions of which require immediate, absolute and fearful compliance.The paper analyses this approach and comments upon the attempt to have Gideon Gono, the former Reserve bank governor and Mugabe's personal banker, elevated to the senate, probably with a view to appointing him as a Minister.

The paradigm for understanding power developed by John Gaventa (2006), can be very helpful in unraveling the ways in which power operates in Zimbabwe. And, in particular, the ways in which these forms of power operate at the macro and meso levels of Zimbabwean socio-political life to facilitate the continuance of one particular regime in political power. Additionally, the paper seeks to demonstrate how these forms of power facilitate violence through the use of state power.

The somewhat provocative title of this report conceals an extremely serious issue with Zimbabwean politics. The theme of succession, both of the State Presidency and the leadership of ZANU PF,
increasingly bedevils all matters relating to the political stability of Zimbabwe and any form of transition to democracy. The paper analyses both the provisions in Zimbabwe's national constitution with regards to succession to the presidency - which currently provides that the party of the incumbent (ZANU PF) will chose the successor to serve the remaining term of office - and the constitution of ZANU PF and the provisions therein for succession to the party leadership.

Report produced by the Research & Advocacy Unit in partnership with the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA). This report documents real accounts and the lived experiences and conditions subjected to 20 women activists who were incarcerated having been on the front lines of defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe.

Documents:

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) of 15.09.2008 was welcomed by women as it acknowledges the equality between men and women and recognizes women’s role in nation building and the abuses they suffered in the process, and continue to suffer, but it must be noted that women’s representation at the negotiations which led to this agreemenbt was minimal and the issues affecting women were primarily decided by men. What remains to be seen is how the clauses in the GPA will be implemented and what real impact it will have on women’s lives. The GPA does not look at women as a specific group, but, under Articles 7(a) and(d), combines them with the other generic groupings - race, age, gender and political affiliation.This suggests that the parties have not regarded women as a particularly vulnerable group in a time of crisis, which they obviously are. This has to be acknowledged in the implementation of the clauses in the GPA that relate to the position of women

The article explores the effectiveness of the use of an empowerment workshop, called the Tree of Life, in the treatment of torture survivors. The approach is based on a survivor-to-survivor model of assistance. The Tree of Life is a group-based approach to the healing and empowerment of survivors of organized violence and torture. It is facilitated by survivors themselves who have been trained and supervised in the methodology. It uses the metaphor of the tree to provide a framework for understanding the trauma experience, and, through a series of inter-related processes, leads the survivor into an appreciation of his or her strengths and the support of the community in surviving.

This paper falls into two main sections. The first section provides a brief overview of organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe, mainly drawing on statistics from the 2001-2009 period, but in some cases going back further. Figures showing the kinds of abuse inflicted and its frequency provide evidence of the extent to which Zimbabweans have suffered during this period of complex emergency, when the infrastructure of the country has collapsed around them. The second section - Developing a response: learning from experience elsewhere, presents in brief the shifts in thinking in this field which have occurred over the last two decades as a result of experience in post-conflict situations round the world.

Civil society has long anticipated the current dynamics and questions facing those concerned with transitional justice in Zimbabwe. In 2003, against the background of inter-party talks about possible transition, a Symposium was held in Johannesburg, which made comprehensive recommendations on the ways to manage the consequences of organized violence and torture, including ways in which truth, accountability and healing should take place. However, it is apparent that the national situation has changed (and deteriorated) considerably since 2003. A strong argument can be made that Zimbabwe now conforms to the kind of situation currently termed a “complex emergency”. In the context of economic collapse, the collapse of all supportive services [health and social welfare], severe food shortages, and mass violence, Zimbabwe resembles a country at war, but without the obvious features of war. The types of trauma reported, especially in the past five years, conform in most respects to those seen in obvious times of war - the profiles for the pre-Independence period and Matabeleland in the period 1980 to 1987 are markedly similar to that seen nationally since 2000.

Whilst there is continual reference to the suffering of those affected by the Zimbabwe crisis, particularly in reference to Operation Murambatsvina and the burgeoning food crisis, insufficient attention has been given to the mental health consequences, both psychological and social, of the massive social upheaval and organized violence and torture that has accompanied the crisis.This paper seeks to begin to fill this gap.

One of the greatest challenges in the aftermath of any violent conflict is the issue of accountability for serious human rights violations. Although impunity continues to characterise many post-conflict situations, since the end of World War 2 there has been perceptible progress in efforts towards securing justice and accountability and in undertakings to build polities based on fundamental rights and freedoms and respect for the rule of law. Although there is much work still to be done in this regard, addressing the rights of victims and survivors is increasingly recognised as an essential component of any credible efforts designed to tackle issues of justice and accountability, which are themselves integral components of building the foundations of a sustainable democratic culture. Policies of amnesia and avoidance, which have characterised so much of the past, are under attack and, in the words of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “the preference fordoing nothing is no longer an option.”

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