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The hate speech problem in Zimbabwe

Five years ago communities lost lives due to Politically Motivated Violence. This week the Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) pays homage to the lives of the following heroes and heroines who died in 2008 as a result of politically motivated violence.

Over the years Mugabe’s regime has deployed serving and retired soldiers into non-military structures, to ensure Mugabe remains in power.
Over the years Mugabe’s regime has deployed serving and retired soldiers into non-military structures, to ensure Mugabe remains in power.

These individuals lost their lives between 23 and 29 June 2008 with causes of death varying from assault, abductions to outright murder.

The violence resulted in most families losing not only their bread winners but also lost their sources of livelihoods since 90% of the victims were men who were responsible for fending their families.

HZT therefore intervened by carrying out memorial services for the deceased as a way of affording the families a chance to mourn the deceased and ultimately, find closure. The organization also capacitated the communities through various income generating projects meant to restore their livelihoods.

All the cases listed below were recorded during a HZT fact finding mission.

Area, Name of Deceased, Date of Birth

Manicaland-Buhera

Silas Manyere 28/06/2008

Mashonaland Central-Chiweshe

Hama Madamombe 24/06/ 2008
Joel Lewis Musiiwa 28/06/2008
ManjeraWedzerayi 28/06/2008

Mashonaland Central

Guruve Tendayi Mukwenya 23/06/2008

Masvingo-Gutu

Urayayi Mandingo 25/06/2008

Manicaland -Headlands

Mafi Tafundikere Gumare 25/06/2008
Aquiline Sanzenga Gumare 25/06/2008
Robert Ziyenga Musima 25/06/2008
Jessica Musima 25/06/2008
Manomano Ndawi 27/06/2008
Taurai Kamuchira 27/06/2008

Mashonaland East

Mutoko Tom Peter Butawo 28/06/2008

Mashonaland East-Uzumba- Maramba Pfungwe

Paradzayi Katandika 27/06/2008

Elections and Violence

On 24 and 25 June 2000, the first Parliamentary election since independence, in which ZANU-PF faced real opposition were held. The newly formed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) challenged ZANU-PF’s control of Parliament.

According to international observers, extensive electoral fraud and intimidation of voters occurred during this election. The election marked the rebirth of a culture of violence and impunity in Zimbabwe. -Financial Gazette.

On 24 June 2008, Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai formally submitted a letter of withdrawal from elections to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

This came after he made an announcement on 22 June of withdrawing from the 27 June election run-off, stating that “….Conditions as of today do not permit the holding of a credible poll. We can’t ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives. We will no longer participate in this violent sham of an election…..”

The MDC President cited political violence against his supporters by suspected ZANU PF supporters as the reason for the withdrawal-. Financial Gazette.

On 25 June 2008, The Head of the 2008 SADC Election Observer Mission, Mr. Jose Marcos Barrica issued a statement expressing the mission’s deep concern on widespread politically motivated violence in the country. He appealed to the relevant authorities, particularly supporters of political parties and candidates to refrain from all forms of political violence. The Mission also urged the law enforcement agencies to ensure that there was law and order in the country.Financial Gazette.

On 26 June 2008, ZCTU district chairperson for Chivhu, Tinashe Murau, was beaten up by suspected ZANU PF militia just before the 27 June Presidential Runoff. He sustained several injuries including a broken arm. He was beaten after the youth militias questioned him on why he wore ZCTU t-shirts.in the area-www.sokwanele.com.

On 28 June 2008, 46 members of the General Agriculture Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, (ZCTU) sought shelter in Harare after they were harassed and beaten up by suspected youth militias. The members included men, women and children. -www.sokwanele.com.

On 29 June 2008, President Robert Mugabe was declared the winner of the second round of elections. On the same day, he was sworn in for another term as President.-The Herald.

On 26 June 2013, Zimbabweans were expecting a Supreme Court verdict on election dates. This came after SADC recommended that the date be extended for two weeks from the 31st of July. This was based on the fact that there is insufficient time for meaningful reforms that guarantee a peaceful environment conducive for free and fair polls. The verdict was however postponed to 4 July 2013.-DailyNews.

Hate Speech

On 25 June 2008, Political activists used hate speech to intimidate voters in the run-up to the 27 June election run -off. Addressing mourners at the funeral of Retired Lieutenant General Amoth Chimombe in Zaka East, Major General Engelbert Rugeje said

“… this country came through the bullet not the pencil therefore it will not go by your X of the pencil. Today, I came here by helicopter with the late Chimombe’s body. The next time I will come to Jerera, the helicopter will be full of bullets. You know what you did…”

Here he was referring to the March 2008 election results where MDC won three out of four Parliamentary constituencies in the Zaka District.

During the same event, former Finance Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi also said that“…this is up to you, if you want peace, you should vote for us, if you vote for MDC, we will go to war…”-Financial Gazette- 19-25 June 2008.

On 22 June 2013, Mary Mubaiwa–Chiwenga, the wife of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga was on a countrywide tour of army barracks where she addressed army officials.

In her speech she said“…let us not take our freedom for granted, let us not sell our country for the love of working for whites, and let us not sell our country for the love of people who do not love us. How does one person and lots of advisers facilitate for the demise of their country? How does a person facilitate for our dear Zimbabwe to be left on its knees?Let us unite and fight the enemy within. I urge all of you to register and vote correctly and by correctly I mean RG Mugabe…” This clearly shows how partisan and unprofessional the Zimbabwean army is.– Newsday 22 June 2013.

Transitional Justice For the UN system, Transitional Justice ( TJ) is the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.

It consists of both judicial and non-judicial processes and mechanisms, including prosecution initiatives, facilitating initiatives in respect of the right to truth, delivering reparations, institutional reform and national consultations.

Whatever combination is chosen must be in conformity with international legal standards and obligations. TJ mechanisms have been carried out in other countries and in most cases managed to record some significant progress in terms of spearheading the national healing process.

HZT takes a glimpse of what transpired in Rwanda and Iran after periods of conflict. From these examples, one can note that national healing is possible in Zimbabwe and it only takes a genuine commitment on the part of Zimbabweans to spearhead the process.

In June 2008, Rwandan Priest killers pleaded guilty to charges of murder committed during the 1994 genocide. Kigali Archbishop, Vincent Nsengiyumva, was among the 13 clerics murdered in the incident at a church in central Rwanda on 5 June 1994. Many of the priests killed were Hutus.

The soldiers who killed them were at the time members of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), now the ruling party of President Paul Kagame. Following the massacres, in Rwanda an International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in 1994 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 955.

It was established to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between January and December 1994.

From the Rwandan experience, it can be deduced that justice should first take its course before any call for national healing and reconciliation in any given society.When individuals are held liable for atrocities committed, healing and reconciliation can be attained.

In June 2012, a Truth Commission was set up to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for the massacre of thousands of political prisoners throughout the 1980s.

The commission was established against a milieu of escalating human rights abuses in the country as reported by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

It heard the testimonies of people who escaped the prisons and those whose family and friends were executed in the 1980s prison massacres. Their testimonies were heard by an international panel of experts.

The exact number of prisoners executed remains unclear, however, Amnesty International recorded the names of more than 4,480 political prisoners reportedly killed during that time. Iranian opposition groups suggest that the number of prisoners executed was far higher and as many as 30,000 may have been killed.

The Truth Commission was followed by a further tribunal hearing at The Hague in October 2012. As the country heads towards another round of national elections, there is need to remind the Government of thousands of human right cases awaiting for justice……

It is possible for Zimbabwe to W.A.V.E- Win Against Violent Elections.

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