Zimbabwe’s organ on national healing has been spending time in five star hotels on chaotic national healing missions while relatives and dependents of those who were killed are wallowing in poverty in the rural areas.
Already, the NGO, Heal Zimbabwe, has so far assisted in memorial services for eight victims in Muzarabani district and plans are underway to do it countrywide. The memorial services are also aimed at bringing together perpetrators and relatives of victims so that they forgive each other to avoid bloodshed in future elections.
“As a response to calls from spouses, relatives and friends of victims of political violence after the March 29 harmonised elections in 2008, Heal Zimbabwe took the initiative and assisted bereaved families in organising eight memorial services in Muzarabani South and North. The memorial services were held in various villages across the district.
“The majority of victims of this violence are women and children, the most vulnerable members of society who have been left destitute when bread winners were murdered. The victims of this violence continue to suffer as a result of the deprivation caused by deaths of bread winners and destruction of their source of livelihood.
“The organisation in its niche to promote national healing and peace building initiatives, Heal Zimbabwe envisages for reconciliation and forgiveness in a bid to avoid future recurrence of political violence especially in areas considered as “no- go” areas for other political parties.
“The victims appealed to the organisation to make possible a mourning period as most of them never got the opportunity to mourn their loved ones as the environment was not conducive.
“Most of the survivors were in hiding at the peak of the violent eruptions. The violence was systematic and selective in nature and from a survey carried by Heal Zimbabwe in Muzarabani, 90% of the victims of political violence were males who acted as bread winners in their respective families,” says the organisation’s director, Rashid Mahiya.
Heal Zimbabwe argued that by carrying out the bereavement process, the survivors were offered a rare opportunity which was deprived to them during the horrendous periods where their own homesteads became no go areas after the displacement.
According to reports from Muzarabani, the memorial services drew people from all angles, spouses, family members, traditional leaders, victims and perpetrators of the 2008 political violence.
“The exercise is a starting point to the peace building initiative. Violence of any nature is unacceptable and regrettably, the majority of the acts were conducted by local people especially youths who were used as tools for political violence, a move that should be avoided at all cost in the future.
“In the spirit and letter of the Inclusive Government, the surviving spouses and children need time to bereave as a starting point to the national healing process. The incorporation of both victims and perpetrators of violence is meant to reduce tension between the two as a way of trying to avoid the resurgence of violence in the near future.”