Zimbabwe: Mugabe’s amnesty plea for criminals condemned

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The Movement for Democratic Change and human rights activists in Zimbabwe have expressed outrage at President Mugabe’s call for amnesty to perpetrators of politically motivated crimes.

The 86 year old Mugabe who has previously boasted that he has degrees in political violence told thousands of people at the National Heroes Day commemoration Monday that the national healing programme was not going to criminalise political violence perpetrators.

“We have embarked in earnest on the process of national healing, reconciliation and integration. For the sake of our children and posterity, I want to urge all of you to note that the process of reconciliation is national.

“It does not seek to ferret out supposed criminals for punishment but rather calls on all of us to avoid the deadly snare of political conflict. Guided by the spirit of tolerance, we should continue to work together in promoting peace and stability regardless of political or religious affiliation,” he said.

But the MDC does not agree with the president’s views. MDC-T (under Tsvangirai) deputy spokesperson Thabita Khumalo said her party was not supportive of Mugabe’s “cheap politicking”. She said that allowing Mugabe to have his way was tantamount to granting his Zanu (PF) party green light to continue brutalising MDC supporters.

“As MDC we are saying and have always been saying there is no reconciliation without justice. Mugabe’s statement gives his militia green light to continue violating human rights. We have wounds which back date from as far as the Gukurahundi era, which have not been healed, and how are the affected going to forget these atrocities if justice is not brought to them,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s elections since 2000 have been marred by violence, which has left hundreds of Mugabe’s opponents dead and many more fleeing their homes from a campaign of terror by war veterans and youth militia loyal to the veteran leader.

A human rights activist and Zimrights director, Okay Machisa, said politicians had no right to dictate how the national healing process should be conducted because they were the ones responsible for inciting violence in the first place.

“I think President Mugabe was speaking on his own behalf not the nation which is, bearing the brand of political violence, which was perpetrated on them by Zanu (PF) activists over the years. In fact it’s the victims who should dictate the way national healing should go.

“As Zimrights we are saying everyone who committed human rights offences should test the medicine. They should be brought to book if the nation is to learn and reconcile,” he said.

Mugabe’s statement is a direct conflict with the wishes of the people mostly MDC-T supporters who were brutalised by militant sections of his party in June 2008 during the run up to the controversial Presidential run-off elections. They want the perpetrators to be arrested.

More than 200 MDC-T supporters were killed by the military and Mugabe’s militant supporters during the bloody period preceding the bloody presidential June 27, 2008 run off election, and up to this day none of perpetrators of this violence has been brought to book despite being known by the authorities.

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