Friday, October 24, 2008

Reach out to Zimbabwe's Generals

from the CSMonitor:

although a secular paper, the Christian Science Monitor is partially funded by a church. This editorial points out that yes, atrocities happened, but repentence and reconcilliation might be the answer.

Zimbabwe's political power-sharing deal – the hope of that tattered country – is on the verge of collapse. Big-man leader Robert Mugabe has grabbed the mightiest ministries for himself, handing paltry leftovers to the opposition. But the problem is not that Mr. Mugabe won't share. It's that his top generals fear what will happen to them if he does.

The fear is typical of perpetrators of violence and suppression whose influence is coming to an end. In Africa, it gripped military and political leaders in Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia, to name a few countries once cleaved by civil war and atrocities.

It didn't come to civil war in Zimbabwe, which not long ago was a prosperous nation, and now suffers searing inflation, joblessness, and hunger. But its citizens well remember the burned homes, beatings, rapes, and killings by President Mugabe's security forces in the run-up to last June's presidential election.

Had the campaign been fair and safe, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), would have likely ousted Mugabe, ...

In the near term, Tsvangirai should build bridges to the military leaders and try to establish some level of trust. This is how, for instance, Burundi has been able to move forward since signing a peace accord in 2000 (an accord that also did not guarantee immunity).

In the longer term, Zimbabwe needs to find a balance between justice and mercy. It has a model in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid's human rights violations, sought reparation for victims, and weighed amnesty....

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