Following post-2018 election cases of intimidation, victimization and violence perpetrated against members of rival political parties in various districts of Mashonaland Central Province the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission last week held a workshop to ensure that Internally Displaced People are reunited with their communities.
NPRC collaborated with Heal Zimbabwe, Musasa Project and Counselling Services Unit in this endeavor.
263Chat’s Lovejoy Mutongwiza (LM) spoke to NPRC’s Commissioner Reverend Charles Masunungure (CM) on the importance of the exercise.
LM: Please shade more light on this exercise
CM: Our mandate as NPRC is all about focusing on the past where we talk about reconciliation…we also deal with conflict prevention.
Talking about the past elections, we did quite a lot in terms of preventing violent conflict and working with the ZRP in ensuring that all violence was accounted for. Therefore, we received a couple of complaints from this part of the country where people said they were being threatened for having participated in political activities.
So we responded and we are working for the civil society organizations where we said we need to do an educational program where we gather political parties to facilitate dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
LM: Alright! Take us through the post-election violence in this area.
CM: In Mt Darwin constituency, particularly in Dotito, there are about 12 people that left their homes and their story is that they felt they were being targeted by political opponents and specifically it was MDC-Alliance members who felt that Zanu-PF members were targeting them and they were threatening them with violence as was witnessed in 2008 so they say.
But in terms of physical violence, none of them experienced any form of assault because I know most of them are victims of the 2008 violence and they perceived that danger was about to happen.
So they left their homes and went to counseling services unity who then conducted us and we came back with them to their village. We talked to traditional leaders and we told the police. As we speak, they are back home.
But we thought that as a preventive measure and to avoid the spread of the phenomena of giving each other threats we should gather them together and talk to them
We have other issues with the distribution of food which some are saying is being done in a partisan manner and this is why we are also highlighting that all people need to benefit from government hand-outs.
LM: Traditionally, this province has been known to be highly polarised and politicised, do you think we are now moving into an era where there is political tolerance?
CM: If you look at the invitations that we sent out you will see that we invited four parties…we expected all of them to be here. We invited them, their leadership from the six constituencies that we are dealing with.
We targeted those six because the police district of Mt Darwin covers those ones and we found it easier for monitoring and evaluation using police system on how they receive complaints.
So found out that in 2018 there was more political participation by more parties than before and that entails tolerance.
LM: Earlier on you talked about blood being thicker than politics, please decrypt that for us!
CM: What I was trying to say is that people should not forget that they are related by blood. Not only are they related by blood, but they are people from the same community so we are saying let politics not divide people. Let people not take politics and make it a center stage.
We have relatives who belong to different political parties and some have taken wrongly as they end up insulting and assaulting each other ignoring the blood that binds them.
LM: Going forward, what are your recommendations for solving such issues?
CM:…we expect to be working in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe and as section 63 (a) of the NPRC Act Chapter 10.32 says the NPRC shall operate everywhere in the country and cognoscenti of the limitations that are there, the act says in section 38b, we should also collaborate with civil society, government and any other institution without compromising our independence.
So going forward, we are going to constitute our committees, the healing, and reconciliation committee, the prevention and non-recurrence committee, the research and knowledge management and the victim and support gender diversity.
These are committees which are open for participation by members of the public and this is how we are going to engage knowing that we are limited in terms of manpower and other resources.
We are also going to decentralize through stakeholders.
LM: Thank you, Commissioner!
CM: You are welcome!