BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
NATIONAL Peace and Reconciliation Commission deputy chairperson Lillian Chigwedere said political polarisation was hampering her commission’s efforts to engage stakeholders to bring the much-needed healing to the country.
Chigwedere told NewsDay on Friday on the sidelines of the third edition of the reparations dialogue organised by the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG).
She said the commission was finding it difficult to do its work in a society where they are viewed with political lenses using the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC binaries.
“We are appealing to politicians and civil society organisations to help depolarise the country,” Chigwedere said.
“We receive a lot of criticism from the same people who are supposed to be assisting us. (Another challenge is) we will be working with the communities that are not forthcoming to speak because of polarisation. People are scared of what will happen to them after they open up.”
The NPRC is a constitutional body responsible for spearheading national healing and reconciliation after years of violent conflicts resulting in the death of many people.
Gukurahundi, which tops the list of atrocities in post-independent Zimbabwe, has been a thorn in the flesh of government with the people in the Midlands and Matabeleland, where over 20 000 people were butchered by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade, have been pushing for reparations.
Millions of victims of violence in Zimbabwe have been denied access to the truth and reparation process, a situation that resulted in the formation of NTJWG six years ago to lobby for transitional justice.
“When we do things, people will be trying to interpret what we are doing along political lines and this affects the whole peace and healing programme,” Chigwedere added.
Innocent Gonese, MDC justice and legal affairs secretary, said polarisation could only be ended by the implementation of political reforms in the country.
“Without reforms, our politics will remain polarised. That is why as a party we clamour for political and economic reforms. We should emulate the Colombian situation where the people put aside political differences,” Gonese said.
Reverend Ray Motsi, a member of the NTJWG said: “Political polarisation is affecting national transition work, even the NPRC is affected and as a country, we should work together to put an end to these political binaries.”