The state of peace in Zimbabwe

November 6, 2020

Dr. Ray Motsi: NTJWG Thematic Leader on Memorialisation

 

Violence catalogue

Peace has been illusive in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years dating back to the time of colonialism. In 1980 we gained independence but did not have peace as a nation if one realised that that was when more than 20 000 people were violently massacred in Matabeleland and Midlands. Soon after, violence raised its ugly head again during the conception of Zoom with Edgar Tekere and Patrick Kombayi. The later nearly lost his life at the hands of the ruling party. After that we moved into the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the land distribution. While the land distribution was long overdue as it sought to redress the historical colonial legacy but, the manner in which it was undertaken left a lot to be desired. Many lives were lost due to the violence which was perpetrated against those that were considered as enemies. From land distribution we had Operation Murambatsvina (Clean Up) where ordinary poor and marginalised Zimbabweans lost their informal homes and Cottage Businesses. Lives were lost due to natural elements as these people were rendered homeless in the middle of a biting cold winter of 2005 (Becoming Zimbabwe, 2009). The long and short sleeve violence was unleashed to innocent voters who were perceived to have caused R,G. Mugabe’s loss of the election in 2008, to the then opposition political leader  Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe has not experienced meaningful and sustainable peace from independence.  Violence which has become the ruling party ‘s knee jack response and modus operandi. What is surprising   in all this violence is that the ruling party has been at the centre of it all.

Peace Defined

Galtung (the guru of peace building) defines peace as cessation of war, a state of quietness. The type ‘peace’ may in itself be peace productive; it produces a common basis, a feeling of communality in purpose that may pave the ground for deeper ties. There are also two compatible definitions of peace -viz, peace is the absence or reduction of violence of all kinds and peace is non-violent and creative conflict transformation. To define peace one has to know and understand the nature of conflict and violence. Also the questions like ‘What are the causes of conflict?’ and ‘how can violence be transcended? In the context of Galtung’s philosophy of peace, peace is a state of affairs the possibility of which is founded upon countering violence and transforming conflict. Peace means ‘non -violent and creative conflict transformation” Non- violence has a wide coverage that includes individual, social, cultural and political life of humans. Violence must be traced from its genesis not only in human mind and society but also in the structure systems of the society.

Zimbabwean violence is structurally present in a society when human beings are so conditioned that the actual somatic and mental realizations are below the people’s potential realizations. Violence is here defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, between what could have been and what is. Violence is that which increases the distance between the potential and actual. When the potential is higher than the actual and the difference which is by definition avoidable prevails, then violence is present. If insight and resources are monopolized by a group or class or they are used for other purposes, then the actual level falls below the potential level, and violence is present in the system.

In addition to these types of indirect violence in Zimbabwe there is another type of violence, viz., direct violence, where means of realizations are not simply withheld, but directly unavailable. Indirect violence is within the social structure itself and it affects relationship among human beings and human societies in the Zimbabwe. If we define violence as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, the meaning of ‘Potential realization’ is highly problematic. The distinction between manifest and latent violence is clear. Peace’ refers also to the absence of structural violence. Traditionally violence is conceived as personal violence only, with important subdivisions in terms of violence and the threat of violence, physical and psychological violence and intended and unintended. Indirect violence is structural violence and direct violence is personal violence. The chief difference between structural violence and personal violence is that personal violence is meaningful as a threat, a demonstration even when nobody is hit, and structural violence is meaningful as a blueprint, as an abstract form without social life, used to threaten people into subordination.

Personal violence is usually overt and the object of personal violence usually perceives the violence, and may complain as well. The object of structural violence may not perceive this at all. Structural violence normally evades the catch or perception of its victim. Structural violence is silent, it does not show – it is essentially static.

 Initiation of a Peace Process

For sustainable peace in Zimbabwe, there is a need for designing a peace process.  In order to design a peace process there is a need for well-planned elaborations of the design. Design of peace processes involves bringing together different types of conceptual and organizational factors to help in long term Peace building.  Then peace initiation has to formulate and design a process which can create trust and confidence in both the actor and the audience. The most important thing is to reinforce the linkage between the actors who are directly involved in this peace making process and the audience who are the recipients. The first stage implies that for sustaining peace in the society there is need for a clear conceptual and theoretical understanding of the root causes of a given conflict. Understanding the root causes of the conflict will enable to solve the problem and thereby usher positive peace in the society. Various types of people and organizations should be included within it like business personal, educationist, military official (ex), different government, or non-governmental benevolent organization like NGO, Human Rights Organization and victim organisations. With the skills from various sectors of life, members contribute to society in sustaining and effective manner that will make their work easily acceptable. Zimbabwean local peace makers can include group of people of known integrity who agree to act as catalytic agents. They assist by sharing their expertise and experiences. A clear need of expertly designed framework includes various non-governmental organizations’ members local and traditional wise elders.

The establishment of the NPRC  

The National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) is a welcome instrument of how to bring about peace in Zimbabwe but it has incredible shortcomings least of which are resources   and inclusive sector selection of commissions.  There seems to be lack of power and authority to effect any meaningful influence on the government and the citizens.  They have not been in touch with the actual people who have been affected by violence as a way to bring awareness of how they can deal with their problems and bring about transformation.  The issue surrounding the lifespan of the commission does not seem to be clear or resolved.  There seems not to be any prioritisation of issues and how they ought to be dealt with. The greater public weakness is the lack of publicity of their work and progress reports of what is going on with their work particularly to the people that matter the citizens.

While the country was initially excited about the inauguration of this Commission, the excitement and expectations have died out. It could be just window dressing if there is no political will from the government.

National dialogue platform

In the past several years, national dialogues have been proposed or carried out in a diverse group of countries and circumstances. There are good reasons to broaden the debate about a Zimbabwe’s trajectory beyond the usual group of elite decision makers. National dialogues offer the potential for meaningful conversation about the underlying drivers of conflict and ways to holistically address these issues.   (Susan Stigant and Elizabeth Murray.  National Dialogue can be a tool for Conflict Transformation which would lead us to a nation building agenda in national transitional justice. (Tilly 1975/Bendix 1964) Social cohesion and personal relationships are the core elements when it is understood as the efforts to develop a consciousness of shared destiny in National dialogue. The consensus should be on several national issues.

A national platform must engender a sense of ownership guided by a neo-patriotism that is not based on party political ideology but shared national values, identity and inclusivity.  A national dialogue must in essence give hope and open doors for cross pollination, synergy and cohesion.

National dialogue is envisioned as a rational and democratic way of dealing with our past as people have the right to know/ right to justice, right to reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence under Joinet/Orentlicher (2006) principles.  The national dialogue facilitates conflict transformation and unlocks the momentum which will give birth to national positive energy and a conducive environment for a national collective and shared memory.

Lastly, National Dialogue must enable the government to assist in transitional justice with which we will not move forward. National memorialisation through commemoration, monuments, art, archival processes and museum. All these mechanisms are part and parcel of transitional justice.

National Transitional Authority (NTA)

This is a provisional government (also called an interim government/emergency government or a transitional government which is an authority set up to manage a political transition. The context is that of a nation moving from a protracted violence to a peaceful coexistence, generally in cases of new nation as or following the collapse of the previous government administration. How to navigate the current government is the immediate challenge as Zimbabwe is not in a post-conflict era?

Conclusion

The state of peace in Zimbabwe is precariously poised in this social, political and economic quagmire. There is no one who can guarantee with certainty where Zimbabwe will be in two years’ time and the prospects for peace are only but a pie in the sky.  Zimbabwe is politically described as a fragile state because there are no guarantees of what will happen tomorrow, it therefore leaves citizens vulnerable to a range of shocks.

 

Notes and References:

  1. Galtung, Johan, 1996 (Reprinted l996, 1998), Peace By Peaceful Means, Sage, London.
  2. Pardesi, Ganashyam, (Ed) 1994, Contemporary Peace Research, Radiant Publishers.
  3. Galtung, Johan, 1969, ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research Journal of Peace Research Vol.VI, PP-167,191.
  4. Rupesinghe, Kumar, 1994, ‘Forms of violence and its transformation’ in Rupesinghe and Marcial Rubio C (Eds) The Culture of Violence, United Nations University Press, P-25
  5. Rupesinghe, Kumar, 1995, ‘Conflict Transformation’ in Rupesinghe (Ed) Conflict Transformation, Macmillan, St.Martin’s Press, PP.81-82.
  6. Galtung, Johan, 1995, “Conflict Resolution and Conflict Transformation:•The first law of Thermodynamics Revisited” in Rupesinghe (Ed) Conflict Transformation, Macmillan, St. Martin’s Press, London, P-52.
  7. Galtung, Johan, 1996, Peace by Peaceful Means Sage, London.
ABOUT USNTJWG

The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) is a platform established by forty-six Zimbabwean transitional justice stakeholders to provide the interface between transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.

OUR PURPOSEMission Statement

Our Mission is to create an inclusive space for the coordination of transitional justice stakeholders, share experiences; build synergies for comprehensive, accountable, victim-centred and participatory transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.

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ABOUT USNTJWG

The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) is a platform established by forty-six Zimbabwean transitional justice stakeholders to provide the interface between transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.

PURPOSEMission Statement

Our Mission is to create an inclusive space for the coordination of transitional justice stakeholders, share experiences; build synergies for comprehensive, accountable, victim-centred and participatory transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.

GET IN TOUCHNTJWG Social links
View crucial information and updates on our social media platforms.
GET IN TOUCHContact Us
64B Connaught Road, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe
P.O. Box 9077, Harare, Zimbabwe

© Copyright 2021 NTJWG. All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2021 NTJWG. All Rights Reserved