Should Mugabe account for past crimes?

HARARE - Anaysts are divided on whether President Robert Mugabe should be prosecuted for past crimes, committed during his 37 years in power, in the event that he resigns or is pushed out.

During his time as president, Mugabe master-minded the Gukurahundi massacres and the infamous 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, among other social ills.

In 1983, a campaign of terror known as Gukurahundi was waged in Matabeleland, killing more than

20 000 people and the massacres remain the darkest period in the country’s post-independence history.

On the other hand, Operation Murambatsvina was a widely-condemned programme of mass forced evictions undertaken by the government which according to the United Nations resulted in some

750 000 people losing their homes and businesses.

Years on to today, the affected people have not been compensated for their loss and thousands allocated plots of land under the Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle live in settlements with no basic services, schools, clinics and were driven deeper into poverty.

Mugabe and his family are also believed to have amassed vast wealth with properties around the world while in Zimbabwe they own several farms and businesses.

Legislator Jessie Majome believes Mugabe should be held to account because if not, the past will haunt the nation.

“The three main pillars of truth telling, a guarantee of non-recurrence, and reparations must not be compromised,” she said.

“The fourth one of justice may be compromised on considering the circumstances of negotiation and his advanced age.”

Majome added that ultimately the approach must be one that balances the need for the nation to go forward on one hand and the interests of the wronged.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede is of the opinion that pretending nothing has happened over the decades will be a bad precedent and travesty of justice.

“There has to be closure of some sort, and those who were affected should know what happened, how and why. Whether that will lead to forgiveness or not should be left to wide and inclusive consultations.

“In fact, the Constitution has dealt with this matter by requiring the setting up of a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and therefore it should get to work. But papering over the cracks in our democratic fabric will not be the right path,” said Gwede.

Social commentator Rashweat Mukundu said Mugabe and his family should be allowed to go into retirement quietly.

“Issues that need redress must be done in a civilised, transparent manner otherwise we run the risk of setting a background for politics of retribution.

“Corrective actions in terms of policy, criminality must take the normal legal and policy course with those that need to go to court doing so, those who need to pay back, equally doing so.

“At the end of this process there should be genuine national healing and reconciliation as well as a common vision that unites citizens on the developmental agenda,” said Mukundu.

Political analyst Precious Shumba is of the opinion that when Mugabe steps down, he must be made to pay for his past without apology.

“He needs to have some of the properties he acquired to be repossessed, and he must be allowed to choose one farm that remains his, while the rest are redistributed to the people who need the land. He would have to choose which one he wants the most.

“If the military is serious about ending corruption, they need to also do a thorough search of the Mugabe’s Blue Roof residence in Borrowdale Brooke in case millions of dollars in hard cash are stashed there.

“His bank accounts should not be allowed to keep the huge amounts that are most likely to be there. The crimes against humanity, to me, he is too old to really ever feel the magnitude of his actions,” said Shumba.

He said what might be done to compensate the affected citizens, in particular in the Matabeleland and Midlands region is for specific annual budgetary allocations that targets health, education, and other infrastructural developments for a period of five years to cover the 1982-87 ethnic cleansing that took place.

“At the same time, while it is good for Mugabe himself to pay for his past, it is also un-Christian to keep grudges and seek revenge on those who have previously wronged you. In that regard, Mugabe needs to be forgiven, as he is a part of history that must be forgotten.

“Jesus Christ forgave those who crucified Him on the Cross saying they knew not what they were doing. Similarly, those hurt by the old man would need to rise above his levels and forgive him for the sake of his own soul and their happiness, which can be compromised if they keep hurting inside.

“Mugabe was a cruel and unforgiving man, may Jesus Christ deal with him in the best manner God knows how,” said Shumba.

He added though that there is no amount of monetary or material compensation to the Gukurahundi victims and their families that will ever bring back lost life and opportunities.

“Then Zimbabwe has to move forward, vowing never to be in the same place where Mugabe brought us because of power.”

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the most pressing issue in Zimbabwe at the moment is the need to arrest the economic implosion and to revive and resuscitate the ailing manufacturing and industrial sectors.

“We should focus more on socio-economic re-generation and political stabilisation. Retribution should be the last item on our agenda going forward,” said Gutu.

“Zimbabwe is already a broken nation. We urgently need healing. You cannot heal a nation by being vindictive and retributive.

“We have to engage the future rather than remaining locked up in the past. You cannot change yesterday but you can always plan for tomorrow.”

Gutu added that Zimbabwe needs a transitional mechanism that will soft land our political and economic crisis. “It is up to this transitional mechanism to decide and determine what to do with Mugabe.”

Rights lawyer Dewa Mavhunga said the military is in charge and was also implicated in the human rights abuses by Mugabe’s government since independence so it is likely they will grant Mugabe immunity.

“Zimbabweans have little or no say in what is happening as Mugabe faces not a popular uprising but his own comrades who have turned on him,” said Mavhunga.

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika is of the opinion that transitions are about compromise especially if they are stalemated, people will need to give and take.

“It’s fairly certain that amnesties and so on will be on the table in such conversations and people will need to choose vengeance or transition. Besides, all the crimes that Mugabe is accused of, those seeking to actively unseat him are also complicit if not guilty of the same.

“Given that reality there is no need to use Mugabe as a scapegoat and think we have dealt with the issues when other culprits roam free,” said Lewanika.

Analyst Farai Maguwu said there must be restorative justice, for instance where the State can recover some stolen assets it is justified to do so.

“His family must be left with one farm. Some of his overseas properties can be taken by the state and use the proceeds for reconstruction. However we must avoid retributive justice which is driven by hate and unhealed wounds. Mugabe has done much wrongs but I think the desire to move our country forward is stronger and more compelling than the demand to take revenge on Mugabe for past injustices.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the nation must be bigger and futuristic by focusing on how we can rebuild our nation.

“Mugabe should be allowed to die in peace and deal with his devils. We gain nothing from prosecuting an old man like that.

“As a nation we should to take back plundered resources not only from Mugabe but his other Zanu PF looters. These resources needed to go back to the public coffers,” said Saungweme.

Playwright Leonard Matsa said the world over, transitions such as these are always creatures of hard compromises that guarantees security to, and of, the out-going.

“Zimbabweans will naturally want social and moral justice especially that Lancaster short-changed them and 1987 Unity Accord has failed to heal our people.

“While the GNU and any transitional deal with Mugabe will be another compromise demanding the people to look the other way, the future must not be held to ransom by the past. When the dust settles, we will use our Constitution to address that which can be addressed and place long-term insurances legally, fairly and without vindication,” said Matsa.

Comments (7)

it shoud not say account for all the past ......for a fresh start all peope wronged should be given a sorry and compansated with no conditions both gukurahundi and murambatsvina we need to go forward as a clean nation all stollen monies should kick start the compnsation and all zim peoiple each person must be allowed to own only lest than 1 million asset value start with BOB any thing more must be consficated/taken by state

dofo - 20 November 2017

Mugabe's Past Crimes 1980 - Populist policies - free health and free primary education. 1980 - Reconciliation that made sure land imbalance was not addressed immediately. 1983 - Alledging Father Zim was a threat and subsequent persecution that inlcude unleashing a specially trained brigade to ZAPU supporters - aka Gukurahundi. 1985 Rejecting a British crafted economic blueprint (ESAP) only to implement it very late in 2015. 1999 Participating in a non neighbourly conflict in Congo wasting resources that the citizenry could not afford. 2000 Unleashing zanupf footsoldiers on commercial farming lands. 2002 Paying war veterans compensation for voluntarily participating in a bushwar. When the economy was already in the ICU. 1980 - 2017 misgorvenancy and corruption

sinyo - 20 November 2017

I always have a problem when people say someone should be forgiven. Isn't it that the person that has done wrong is the one who should be proactive and ask for forgiveness first?...and this has nothing to do with Christianity.

Sagitarr - 22 November 2017

What about the man who is taking over from him? He's full of "past crimes" as well. The question is, will this just become another "Mugabe-like" President? Only if free and fair elections are called, and they follow through, will getting rid of Mugabe put Zim in the right direction.

Ryan Walker, MD - 22 November 2017

Mugabe has been rewarded for his crimes. people must use the power of their vote in the 2018 elections, to show their displeasure for such gross injustice which is not acceptable.

Roy Westerberg - 27 November 2017

Mugabe has been rewarded for his crimes. people must use the power of their vote in the 2018 elections, to show their displeasure for such gross injustice which is not acceptable.

Roy Westerberg - 27 November 2017

How do you show others that follow people in power, that you will be prosecuted should you go outside the rule of law. Much abuse of power has taken place in the last 37 years in Zimbabwe.

Neil - 15 December 2017

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