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Three-Day Zimbabwe Healing & Reconciliation Exercise Sidestepped Key Issues

By Patience Rusere
Washington
30 July 2009

A three-day period of national reflection on healing and reconciliation called by Zimbabwe's national unity government last Friday through Sunday left unaddressed the question of how the country should deal with perpetrators or compensate the victims of violence.

Speaking Wednesday in Gweru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called the process "delicate" given the need to balance the need for the nation to bind up its psychic wounds through non-retributive justice and the legitimate demands of those scarred by violence.

President Robert Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF supporters and allies are generally considered to have committed most of the violence which followed the March 2008 elections, acknowledges that violence occurred but says Zimbabwe must forgive and move on.

His long-ruling party lost its parliamentary majority in those elections and Mr. Mugabe himself trailed now-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential first round, winning a runoff ballot from which Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew in protest of mounting deadly violence.

For perspective, reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Clement Moyo, chairman of the Mediation for Peace Center in Bulawayo, who has worked for two decades with victims of the 1980s Gukurahundi purge in Matabeleland, and political analyst Gladys Hlatshwayo of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Moyo said President Mugabe should apologize to the victims, arguing that many of them would consider this a sufficient gesture for them to move on as he has urged.



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