National dialogues have emerged in recent years as powerful tools for peace-building across the world and today there are numerable attempts to launch it in Africa, Asia and South America.
These discourses are used as mechanisms to bring the major stakeholders together when political institutions and governments are delegitimised or collapse. They are also increasingly used in transitional societies as a means of collective deliberation upon key issues essential to progress.
Peace-building by the means of a national dialogue is a demanding and arduous process with great possibilities – but only when attention to the details and process precedes action.
Extending a congratulatory message to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) at the launch of their five-year strategic plan 2018-2023 aimed at entrenching peace held at HICC in Harare yesterday, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General and Senator Douglas Mwonzora pledged that his party is committed to the cause of everlasting peace and the respect of the rule of law and Constitution.
Mwonzora, who as the former Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) Co-Chairperson fought tooth and nail to see the inclusion of the NPRC in the Constitution, made known to the public that his party, under the leadership of Advocate Nelson Chamisa, has suggested to the government the need for national dialogue as worst possible economic scenarios looms following recent government monetary and economic policies.
Here is Mzonzora’s full speech:
“I wish to thank the commission for the invitation they extended to my political party the MDC. As Commissioner Ndoro has said if one looks at the history of Zimbabwe as far as they can go one can conclude that Zimbabwe has not known peace. It has gone through periods of political turmoil and violence. It’s time that Zimbabwe embarks on a path to everlasting peace. For some of us who were in the constitution-making process, today is something slightly short of a miracle because of incessant political bickering.
It also came to pass that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission was not included in the constitution. In fact, it became the most outstanding issue because people did not want to talk about the past. On behalf of the MDC, therefore, I pledge our commitment to the rule of law and Constitution. I pledge on behalf of the party a respect for all the institutions and we will not seek to undermine this institution.
Of course, criticism of the Chapter 12 institutions or anybody in government should not be taken as undermining, but it must be taken as enriching that institution. We commit ourselves to dialogue and the is why we’ve suggested to the government that National Dialogue must start on key issues that affect our nation. We pledge collaboration in nation-building and the mattering of everlasting peace. Importantly, we commit ourselves to devolution and the protection of the rights of the minorities.
As we go into the future, some of these following are things that the commission must look at; violence and elimination of violence and electoral injustices. We need free and fair elections in this country. We must also look at economic injustices and corruption which are a source of abuse. We also have to look at the state institutions and the falsification of our history. We must forever destroy all hate language.
While the legacy of the previous generation was the legacy of bringing independence to our country, the legacy of the present generation must be to bring everlasting peace in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe must be truly a rainbow nation. It must be a ready home for the Asiatic, White and Black Zimbabwean. It must be a happy home of the diverse and beautiful ethnic communities that constitute Zimbabwe.
In respect of these, there must be equal rights. There must be equal rights of all Zimbabwean people, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth, irrespective of their political persuasion, and their political background. With these few words, I wish the commission success in the five years and call upon all Zimbabweans, all political parties to be committed to the ideas that I have enunciated that the MDC commit to.”
Representing the ecumenical community, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) Secretary-General, Fr. Frederick Chiromba, recited a Pastoral Letter that the ZCBC wrote at the height of the 2008-2009 crisis entitled God Can Heal The Wounds Of The Afflicted, which basically said the Zimbabwean crisis is not only political and economic but a spiritual and moral crisis.
Going on with his laudatory message to the NPRC, Fr. Chirombe who along with other members of the clergy organised an all presidential candidate interface meeting aimed at fostering peace ahead of the hotly contested July 30 elections at Jesuit-run Arrupe College, said that it is the prime business of the church to facilitate national integration and healing.
“Today we congratulate the NPRC upon the launch of its well-thought-out strategic plan. We, as leaders of the church, are committed to help this country achieve normalcy. The church is in the service of reconciliation, healing, justice and peace. The church commits herself to the National healing process,” said the Father.
The Father, albeit, noted that reconciling a wounded nation is indeed a demanding duty that requires virtues fit of nonpareils.
“We are aware that reconciliation is a very demanding responsibility, demanding great commitment, dedication and sacrifice. In 2007 the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference pointed out that our country is in deep crisis, yet it can also be turned into a moment of grace and new beginning if those responsible causing the crisis repent, heed the cry is the people and foster a change of heart and mind.
“We are happy that this moment has come with this launch of the strategic plan. We need more people in Zimbabwe to be humble enough to admit that they are confessive to the evils that are… in the country from since 1890. With these words, we wish the NPRC every success and blessing forward,” he concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe, Rev Miriam Chikukwa emphasised on the need for forgiveness and tolerance of divergence views.
“The Bible says in Hebrews 12 vs 14, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” All of us should have peace and for us to have peace, we need to have a forgiving spirit. We need to forgive each other and those who are forgiven should also accept the forgiveness. Despite our differences, we’re all Zimbabweans.”
The revolutionary party, ZANU PF, represented by the Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Fortune Chasi, expressed pleasure in the launch of the commission and highlighted that peace has to be invested.
The Advocate went further to say that they will be assessing the commission’s work per their strategic plan.
“Peace does not happen by accident. Peace has got to be invested in. I want to congratulate the NPRC in the work that it is doing, and that it is continuing to do and to say to the Republic of Zimbabwe that we will be looking at them and judging them through this strategic plan, tracking the developments that they would be engaging in.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi graced and officiated the National Peace and Reconciliation strategic plan launch.
In his keynote address, the VP who oversees the National and Reconciliation Ministry said national healing is an initiated process to ease or relieve pain or emotional stress and help people get back to normalcy and move on.
“Healing should be seen as processes or strategies that rehabilitate or reconstruct the psychological, social and economic well-being of the affected communities and individuals. Therefore, healing is not only about assisting individuals to address their psychological; health needs in an isolated way but is dependent upon and integrally linked to repairing and rebuilding communities within a broad context and in our view to make each community and each citizen a part of the upper-middle-income society by 2030,” he said.
Elsewhere, the Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission Retired Justice Selo Maselo Nare made an appeal of support to the public.
“As the Chairman we ask you to give them(the commission) all the necessary support,” he said.
To the commissioners, he said,
“Go ye into the nation and heal the country.”
Other stakeholders who also gave their solidarity messages in support of the NPRC’s work were representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), women, business and youth organisation.
The launch of the five-year strategic plan follows countrywide consultations and a validation conference on the findings.
Comm Masunungure, NPRC media liaison, said after the elections, they were pursuing the healing and reconciliation trajectory to ensure development in the country.
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