Publications

Transitional justice has become an increasing concern for Zimbabweans, and even more so in the past nine years. There have been attempts to discuss this issue in the past beginning with the publication of the CCJP/LRF report on the gross human rights violations of the 1980s. A more substantive consideration of the transitional justice options took place in Johannesburg in 2003, which recommended the setting up of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to cover the violations from 1960 to 2003. One of the recommendations of the 2003 Symposium was for wide consultation with the victims, but mostly this did not take place, with some very minor exceptions. The present study was a small pilot study of the views of ordinary Zimbabweans, who were selected for the likelihood that they had been victims of the political violence and gross human rights violations since 2000.

Zimbabwe’s health services now resemble a country in a state of war according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is not surprising. With each passing year the political psychopathology of Zimbabwe degenerates from mere neurosis towards frank political psychosis. When will the world decide that Robert Mugabe and his Government have lost touch with reality and are deserving of enforced care? When will the world decide that the Zimbabwe Government is in default of its responsibility to protect?

The treatment of women during times of conflict has led to a group of women’s organisations and activists from all over the world coming up with a declaration which addresses the issue of organised violence against women. In May, 2007, the Nairobi Declaration on Women’s and Girls’ Rights to Remedy and Reparation was drafted in the belief that justice for women and girl survivors of sexual violence will never be achieved if reparations programmes are not informed and directed by those they are meant to serve. The Declaration is founded on the experiences of women and girl survivors or sexual violence and the expertise of activists helping them rebuild their lives. This paper considers the Declaration in the context of Zimbabwe.

There is an imperative need for steps to be taken in order to break with the legacy of the past, insist on the rule of law, foster a climate of human rights observance, and find ways to address the ills and hurts of the past in ways that foster peace and reconciliation. A fundamental pre-requisite for any strategy to achieve these aims is that it will be citizen-based and victim- survivor driven: unless a strategy is based in the consensus of the citizenry as a whole it will be unlikely to achieve these goals. It is also imperative to distinguish between a national peace and reconciliation strategy and transitional justice: the former can include transitional justice, but equally may exclude this.

Here, we must note that there are two institutions that can deal with these processes, a Human Rights Commission [HRC] and a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission [NPRC], with different mandates and, neither will likely be dealing with the human rights violations of the extended past. Any strategy dealing with transitional justice will have to negotiate between these two institutions, and may well fall between two stools for lack of any constitutional basis for transitional justice or any statutory body to effect this. It may be possible the the current political context may mitigate against this, and, given that any process of transitional justice (and peace and reconciliation) is usually a one-shot effort for any country, perhaps this is a more time for extensive discussion and not precipitate action. This paper lays out a suggested strategy.

This brief report is a companion to a larger report dealing with the issues around gross human rights violations and transitional justice in Zimbabwe, and is given as a separate paper as it deals with a number of technical suggestions for the setting up of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). It hopes to make an input into the discussions around the drafting of an enabling Act for the NPRC. Much of this draws on a recent monograph from the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Drafting a Truth Commission Mandate: A Practical Tool. The broad terms for the NPRC are laid out in Section 10 and the mandate for the NPRC is given in Section 251 of the new Constitution.

With the recent development of the SADC initiative on Zimbabwe, and the enforced nomination of Robert Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate for “harmonised” elections in 2008, the political problem in Zimbabwe has significantly altered. It is also significant that some dialogue has taken place between factions of Zanu PF and the MDC, apparently brokered by the South African government. These “talks” suggest that some discussion has taken place, within Zanu PF and between Zanu PF and the MDC, on ways to resolve the “succession” problem in Zanu PF. The paper explores possible outcomes for Zimbabwe after the elections of 2008

The SADC mediated Global Political Agreement, signed in September 2008 and brought into operation in
February 2009 is clearly in trouble. Established as a modality for creating the conditions for a generally
acceptable election, after ZANU PF’s violent response to a popular vote against the Mugabe regime in
2008, many hoped, in the face of indications to the contrary, that the resultant interim government would
serve as a bridge to an internationally acceptable electoral solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
While the process has done little to open up democratic space in Zimbabwe it is clear that after June
2008 some form of compromise between the parties was necessary given the balance of forces in the
country. However the prospects of a cohesive transition were always problematic given that the GPA was,
in its very make up, a site of struggle for state power between the contending parties ahead of a future
election. It was also a badly constructed and ambiguous document that in itself has led to unnecessary
problems for governance.

No terms have been more abused or deliberately misunderstood than land reform, sanctions, regime change, and sovereignty, and especially because these terms have become inextricably inter-locked in the highly successful propaganda war mounted by ZANU PF for more than a decade. De-constructing the ZANU PF position around these terms is relatively simple: land reform leads to Western-imposed sanctions, which leads to the desire by Western nations for regime change through elections, and that now means that Western puppets are planning to interfere with Zimbabwe’s sovereign status. And it is breath-takingly simple to run a campaign using this framework, and so extremely difficult to argue against such evocative rhetoric using fact and logical argument. Only those that are prepared to work very hard at a nuanced understanding of the Zimbabwe crisis will perceive the crudity of the argument, and, as always with fascist propaganda, nuanced argument is trumped by the power of endless repetition.

Since the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in September 2008 and the setting in place of the Inclusive Government (IG) in February 2009, Zimbabwe has been stuck with the inevitable consequences of a dysfunctional peace agreement. With the fixed constitutional deadline for the dissolution of parliament in June 2013, the implications of the lack of reform and impasse over the constitution, it is perhaps time to think more creatively about how to unblock the Zimbabwe crisis.

Following on earlier papers by RAU considering the date for the 2013, this paper considers further controversy and difficulties caused by a ruling of the Constitutional Court that the poll must be held before 31st July, 2013.

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