12 TheStandard September 14 to 20 2014 Comment & Analysis / Opinion Building a political career around orphanage wrong sundayopinion BY CONELIA MABASA Naturally, what people do and how they carry themselves around speak better for them than having to use words to build an identity. Imagine if Oliver Mtukudzi “Tuku” would take every opportunity to tell us that he is a great musician? That would take much from his stature. It makes much sense to let the music speak for him. To get the guitars, drums and other instruments spread the message, to give his versatility a chance to interact with the audience. It is a skill to be able to leave music reviewers to critique his work, then to take lessons therefrom without prejudice. Humanity values humility. Events in the political arena have given us Grace Mugabe as the incoming Women’s League boss come the December Zanu PF elective congress. She is taking over from war cadre Oppah Muchinguri who recently conceded that her next political appointment depends on Robert Mugabe. She had to give way for amai, so she says, because as women, they felt they had to do something for her to acknowledge the good work she has done being the pillar upon which the President rests. Isn’t that as it should be for husband and wife? For years, people compared the First Lady with Mugabe’s first wife, Sally, who was a compassionate woman. When Grace established an orphanage in Mazowe, I thought she was finally going to exonerate herself from the mean woman tag, extravagant and worshipping on the altar of opulence. She followed that up by building a school in the area to “educate the orphans”. She has been on a spree to acquire more and more land without a care what happens to people who used to occupy the surrounding farms. She also plans to build a hospital, a museum and a university in the area. What becomes repulsive at the end of the day is that she has turned that orphanage into a political spring board. Instead of leaving the philanthropic work to do the talking for her, she has turned Mazowe into some personal political space. Zanu PF women, youths and now the chiefs are visiting her at the orphanage to pronounce their support and endorsement for the position of the powerful women’s league boss. It is given that she will take over because she won’t be contested at congress. The stampede is just to curry favour with her and the President. Are we witnessing an abuse of the under-privileged to further powerful people’s ambitions? Yes, she has given the children a home and hope of a bright future, but is she turning them into initiates of Zanu PF’s partisan politics by engulfing them with slogans every now and then? It was at Mazowe that she declared that she is “strict but firm”, threatening to pull bigger punches against enemies and promising to rein in those who dared stand in her way. Grace Mugabe Some orphans and care workers at Grace Mugabe’s Mazowe orphanage. She used language so bad it should not come out of a head of state’s wife, so vicious it can’t be said within children’s earshot; so intimidating that it instils fear when people need to feel confident and safe in their own country. The language is so telling of dictatorial leadership on the way. Why use the orphanage as a political selling point? Where is the compassion? Is she using it as a tool to reach the hearts of the electorate ahead of the congress? A means to an end. A launch pad for her political career. Surely the insincerity of it cannot escape us all. Parents should not shoulder burden of education The Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) is saddened and stunned by the stance taken by Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora of calling for the reprimanding of the poor parents who fail to raise tuition fees for their children as was reported in the media. It is disgusting that Dokora unashamedly continues, to call for legal action against poverty-stricken parents yet it is the duty and responsibility of the government to fund education. Article 27 of the Zimbabwe constitution clearly states that the government should fund basic education, hence calling for the arrest of “defaulting parents” is unconstitutional. The RTUZ urges the minister to reconsider and withdraw his uninformed and capitalistic stance of lobbying for the privatisation of education. RTUZ wishes to advise the minister to stop being a stumbling block but instead be a building block that encourages the government to exercise its duty of funding education instead of threatening the poor parents. RTUZ would also want to urge the government to prioritise the education sector if the empowerment mantra is supposed to be a reality because education is the pragmatic empowerment tool that can capacitate citizens. That the government only contributed a paltry US$600 000 as compared to Unicef ’s US$2,4million towards the Capacity Development Programme, clearly shows that the government is reluctant to contribute towards education yet millions are channeled to the army and police as if we are a country at war. While the Capacity Development Programme is a good initiative by Unicef (and not by government as reported in the media), RTUZ urges those responsible for the implementation of the programme to ensure that the programme is lopsided in favour sunday view BY RTUZ of rural teachers. This will lure qualified personnel to teach in rural areas, which in return will boost pass rates. RTUZ would also like to make it clear that it supports government on the idea of curriculum review. However, the association urges government to engage all relevant stakeholders in the implementation of this long overdue curriculum review initiative. It is also our hope that the curriculum review will not be politicised, but instead, the new curriculum should be beneficial to the learners in preparing them for life after school. In other words, the curriculum should not be tailor made Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora to suit hegemonic agendas of certain individuals or political parties as has been the case before. Lastly, RTUZ hopes that the curriculum review will be a panacea for fashioning and producing learners that will be effective in community building as far as development is concerned. Therefore, it is important that whoever will implement the programme be non-partisan and well-informed; otherwise the curriculum review will end up being an ideological tool of some egocentric and parochial individuals for hammering their propaganda into the heads of our children.
Opinion TheStandard September 14 to 20 2014 13 Unpacking NPRC’s mandate justicematters BY DZIKAMAI BERE & PROSPER MAGUCHU Healing cannot happen without justice and closure The Parliament’s supreme decision making body, the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders will soon announce the names of shortlisted candidates for the commissioners to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Predictably, there will be no surprises but we cannot assure you that there will be no disappointments. Many actors have invested so much energy and resources into this process and it is important that we keep watch. Stakeholders must monitor both the process and its substance. One of the important things to monitor and highlight will be the calibre of the people who will be appointed commissioners. We do not wish to preempt that so we will move to the next equally significant aspect of the process — the mandate of the NPRC. In order to faithfully unpack the mandate of the NPRC, we need to understand whether the NPRC is a truth commission or not? The words of eric Brahm (2009) are very instructive. he posed the thorny question: Why does it matter that the truth commission label is used in different ways? For many, it matters little whether or not the investigation his or her government creates is formally called a truth commission. But as policy reform advocates, we should care about the meaning behind the label because it helps us detect potential threats against the commission. For Zimbabwe, does it matter that we are going to have a National Peace and Reconciliation and not something else? It is important to answer this question even before we read the text of the constitution that tells us what the NPRC will be in substance through its mandate. Independent Zimbabwe is fraught with serious violation of human rights such that as early as 1997, many human rights groups had started calling for a Commission to investigate these violations. Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A report into the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands (CCJP & LRF: 1997) was in response to these calls for truth recovery that fell on deaf ears and the failure by the Chihambakwe Committee of Inquiry to make its findings public. In February 1999, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for “a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with unresolved aspects of our past that hinder national integration.” (T. F. Kondo: 2000) In its 2008 election campaign, the MDC promised a “Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.” In 2010, we visited over 84 most violent constituencies speaking to Zimbabweans about what their preferences were on transitional justice in Zimbabwe. In almost every meeting, the people spoke of a commission to deal A handshake . . . past violent elections and other abuses demand reconciliation with aspects of truth, justice and reconciliation. In the same year, the Law Society of Zimbabwe in its model constitution proposed a “Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Conflict Prevention Commission” to investigate past abuses, provide remedies for victims, and prevent future conflicts. These proposals were presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) in its constitutional reform consultation meetings. Copac did not heed clear calls for a “truth”, “justice” and “reconciliation” commission. Instead, it opted for a “national”, “peace” and “reconciliation” commission. This leads to a reasonable conclusion that the powerful partners in government were not comfortable with a “truth, justice and reconciliation” commission because they feared it would seek to bring to light the “forbidden truths” of our past. These fears are not new to Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka is a good example where President Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to appoint a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and settled for a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (2010) which however produced a damning report on how he handled the war with the Tamil Tigers. here in Zimbabwe we do not think we need to worry about the label of our commission. This is because while the name is vague and seems to avoid elements of justice and truth, the mandate, as it is in the constitution, creates a very powerful truth commission, by any name. The constitution sets out a very broad mandate for the NPRC in section 252 (a) which is to ensure “post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.” The term “postconflict” is used loosely to refer to “the period after violent conflicts”, for no society ever goes into post-conflict phase because conflict is eternally part of the human society. This is powerfully expressed in the words of Galtung (2004:2) that “without a goal, life ceases to exist. . . .Where there are goals, there will also often be contradictions [or conflicts] within the same organism or between them;… “There are human beings without contradictions, they Mahinda Rajapaksa . . . he refused to appoint a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, settling for a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission are called corpses,” the Chinese say. Life, goal and contradiction are inseparable. “Conflict prevention”, preventing conflict, is meaningless. But “violence prevention”, preventing violence, is extremely meaningful and beneficial.” What we try to deal with is not conflict, but violent conflict. We seek to bring an end to violent conflict, and build justice, healing and reconciliation. The constitution framers could have ended the functions of the NPRC with only section 252 (a) — they would still have done a splendid job. everything else that comes from (b) to (j) was just overkill and would most suitably belong to the enabling Act, not a constitution. however, others regard this as a positive. Section 252 (a) which talks of ensuring post – conflict justice, healing and reconciliation brings into this NPRC everything that Zimbabwe will ever need in a commission after a legacy of violence: Justice, healing and Reconciliation. What are listed thereafter are just tools and steps for achieving these three very important objectives! Any commission that is serious about achieving reconciliation has also to realise that healing is part of the reconciliation process. healing however, cannot happen without justice and closure. At the same time, justice and closure inevitably bring into the equation the most urgent need for truth seeking processes. A genuine reconciliation process will have to include all the aspects of transitional justice that Zimbabweans have called for in this commission. We therefore argue that the objectives set out by the constitution for the NPRC are comprehensive enough. Our NPRC is indeed a truth commission with a generously broad mandate. A good Act of parliament must now be crafted to assist the upcoming commission translate this mandate into a reality. More importantly, the effectiveness of the NPRC will largely depend on the calibre of the commissioners who will be appointed for the task. • Dzikamai Bere & Prosper Maguchu write in their own personal capacity. The views expressed here are not the views of the organisations they are associated with. For feedback, please write to: email@example.com