Justice only after elections —Tsvangirai

HARARE - Zimbabweans whose rights have been violated in the past 32 years can kiss justice goodbye — at least until after the next elections, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

Speaking at a recent lecture series, Tsvangirai said there was need to strike a balance between justice and the country’s stability.

“The people have in the past gone through traumatic experiences — from Gukurahundi to pre and post-election violence, Murambatsvina and the 2008 presidential run-off elections,” he said.

“No one has a right to stand up and say I have prescribed a solution that will make victims and perpetrators happy or satisfied. I cannot do that and some people have even gone on to say I will declare amnesty to those accused of human rights abuses,” said Tsvangirai.

He called on the legislature to enact a law that will enable people to pursue perpetrators of violence even decades after the commission of the crimes.

Tsvangirai accused his opponents of planting stories of amnesty in the media to whip up emotion and animosity against him.

“Transitional justice is an emotional issue and cannot be handled in an emotional way. I think we can find a solution in Parliament. Those who have committed crimes are afraid while victims are crying for justice,” he said.

The recently gazetted Human Rights Act provides for a commission whose mandate is to investigate abuses that happened only after 2008, drawing howls of disapproval from human rights campaigners who wanted investigations to go back to all post-independence abuses.

Deputy Justice minister and MDC Harare provincial spokesperson Obert Gutu said his party had worked hard in both government and at party level to ease the suffering of victims.

“We have a veteran politician and co-National Healing minister Sekai Holland who has worked very hard with her colleagues to set up peace and healing structures countrywide. I am also aware the National Healing ministry has worked hard to produce a bill on national healing and reconciliation that the ministry of Justice’s department of legislation is fine-tuning,” Gutu said.

He said at party level, the MDC has a vibrant social welfare department led by Public Service minister and trade unionist Lucia Matibenga.

“This department has also worked hard to provide medical assistance and rebuilding destroyed homes belonging to victims of political violence.

“Recently the president (PM Tsvangirai) was in Zaka where he met some of the victims of the June 2008 violence. He has since begun to roll out a programme to assist them with rebuilding their homes and such other necessary assistance as maybe required,” Gutu said.

However, Gutu’s statements may be viewed as political rhetoric by human rights workers and human rights
violations’ victims who accuse the MDC of doing little to use its influence in government to push for justice.

They fear the MDC will again be unable to stop violence and other rights abuses likely to accompany the next election, most likely to be held next year because of Zanu PF’s continued hold on power.

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