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Title: Exploring transitional justice options for Zimbabwe
Authors: Madenga, Innocent 
Keywords: Violence and impunity;Peacebuilding;Inclusive participation;Dialogue;Transitional justice
Issue Date: 2017
Zimbabwe is in dire need of wholesale reform. Gross human rights violations which date back to the pre-colonial period could have been abated in 1980 when the magnanimous policy of national reconciliation promised a new start. The watershed opportunity was, however, lost mainly because no deliberate efforts were made to account for the wrongs of the past in order to start afresh. The result was that Zimbabwe won the independence, but peace remained elusive. This is evidenced in the continued instability, insecurity and uncertainty.

The non-retributive pledge had inherent weaknesses; it lacked inclusive participation, hence, no broad ownership. Simply drawing a line between the wounded past and the present, meant burying the past without the prerequisite rituals bent on ensuring non-recurrence. The futility of this blanket amnesty is evident in the sustained legacy of gross human rights abuses and impunity.

Political violence has been institutionalised through politicisation of all aspects of life. This research is guided by Lederach’s reconciliation theory which uses Psalms 85:10 to emphasise the importance of commitment in converging the seemingly divergent aspects of truth, peace, justice and mercy into a ‘meeting place’ called reconciliation. Using a mixed methods approach, this research established that the invariably top-bottom approaches massage the symptoms rather than address the root causes of conflicts. The victims’ agitations for revenge and retribution prompted me to design action research processes aimed at engaging the research participants in interactive activities.

The action research component aimed at sensitising participants to the merits of letting go of the burdens of the past, and to use scars as reminders of hope and not victimhood. The issues of forgiveness without apology, compensation or even remorse were contentious. However, through give-and-take concessions, the dialogue intervention yielded invaluable by-products such as maximisation of indigenous knowledge systems. Building on the participants’ input, sustainable healing and reconciliation can be achieved through deliberate truth-recovery, the right to justice, reparation, forgiveness and non-recurrence assurances.

The research outcomes show that Zimbabwe urgently needs a ‘hybrid’ transitional justice framework based on inclusive participation. Inclusivity is critical because politicians are not necessarily experts in peacebuilding. The yet to be implemented National Peace and Reconciliation Commission can be used as a tool to seek public opinion on how to overcome the entrenched ‘fearology and militarism’ (Oberg 2016) ahead of the watershed 2018 general elections. Uncensored national debates can be used to gather information on the way forward. The multiple merits of Information Communication and Technology should be fully maximised in peacebuilding.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration – Peace Studies, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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